Ex-aide to contest against Sonia in Raebareli

Once a close confidante of former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Dinesh Pratap Singh will be fighting against her in latter's bastion of Raebareli in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. DH file photo

Once a close confidante of former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Dinesh Pratap Singh will be fighting against her in latter's bastion of Raebareli in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Singh was nominated by the BJP from Raebareli seat on Wednesday.

A Congress MLC, Singh had joined the BJP last year and had also organised a public meeting in Raebareli, which was addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Coming from a family of politicians, who have been old Congress loyalists, Singh's brother Rakesh Pratap Singh was a Congress MLA from Harchandpur Assembly constituency in Raebareli. Although it is speculated that Rakesh will also join the saffron party in the days to come, the MLA has not officially remarked on the speculations.

Although Ajai Agarwal, who had contested against Sonia in 2014 LS polls, had staked claim for the ticket once again and even threatened that his community voters (Banias) would turn against the saffron party if he was not nominated, the BJP ignored his claim as it was looking for a strong ''local'' candidate.

''We wanted a local candidate... Singh hails from a family of politicians and commands respect in the constituency,'' said a UP BJP leader here.

In 2014 LS polls Sonia had defeated the BJP nominee by a huge margin of 3.53 lakh votes. The saffron party, however, made a strong comeback in 2017 Assembly polls winning three of the five seats in Raebareli.

Owing to her ill health Sonia Gandhi has not been able to visit the constituency regularly after being elected. It was earlier speculated her daughter and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra would be contesting from Raebareli but the latter recently made it clear that Sonia would again contest.

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