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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Priyanka goes to Wayanad as Rahul Gandhi picks Raebareli

Earlier, Rahul had said that his decision on which seat to retain will bring cheers to both Raebareli and Wayanad.
Last Updated : 17 June 2024, 14:00 IST

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New Delhi: Ending the suspense over Rahul Gandhi's Lok Sabha seat pick, Congress on Monday announced that its top leader will retain Raebareli seat in Lok Sabha while his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will make her electoral debut in Wayanad, which he is vacating.

The announcement came after around two hours of discussions Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had with former Congress presidents Sonia Gandhi and Rahul as well party General Secretaries Priyanka and K C Venugopal at the former’s residence.

The decision, which came a day before the deadline for Rahul to decide between the two seats is ending, as the leadership felt that the party’s campaigner-in-chief should retain his seat in the Hindi heartland where he had a face-off with the BJP than the one in south India where he fought an I.N.D.I.A. ally.

The leadership also chose Priyanka to make her electoral politics entry from the safe seat of Wayanad, the constituency which ensured that Rahul remained in Lok Sabha after losing Amethi in the 2019 elections. Rahul had said that his decision on which seat to retain will bring cheers to both Raebareli and Wayanad.

However, there was no announcement on whether Rahul will take over as Leader of Opposition, though the Congress Working Committee has passed a resolution with Kharge saying “it will be decided later”. In a lighter vein, Rahul said the Congress president has already warned action if the party decision is not followed.

“Rahul-ji has won from two seats and he can continue in only one seat as per law. As tomorrow (Tuesday) is the last day to choose the seat, we discussed today and the party decided that he will retain Raebareli because it is one seat with which he has close relationship and generations of Gandhis fought from there,” Kharge told reporters after the meeting.

“People in the party also felt that it is good if he retains Raebareli. People in Wayanad also want him to retain that seat. But law does not allow that. Priyanka-ji will (now) fight (bypolls) from Wayanad,” he said.

Rahul said he has an emotional relationship with both the seats and people in Wayanad loved him. “Priyanka will fight Wayanad. I will visit Wayanad periodically…I am happy I will represent Raebareli. It was not an easy decision. It was a difficult one as I am linked to both,” he said.

While Priyanka said she is “not at all nervous (about entering electoral politics)”, Rahul added now Raebareli and Wayanad will have two MPs. He also said that all commitments made by him to Wayanad will be realised by them.

With this decision, the Congress made it clear that the party wants to consolidate the gains in north India where it has seen some resurgence though it is yet to regain space in some states where it had substantial ground.

Choosing a safe seat in south India, the decision to field Priyanka is seen as a thanksgiving note by Rahul to the people of Wayanad who ensured that he remained in Parliament after a shock defeat in Amethi. There was speculation that she may fight from either Amethi or Rae Bareli this time but political calculations appeared to have delayed her electoral entry.

While it is claimed that Rahul had taken a decision to fight Rae Bareli two years ago, Priyanka’s entry in south India will help Congress to send a message that one of the Gandhis is representing north while the other is looking after south.

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Published 17 June 2024, 14:00 IST

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