Priyanka Gandhi To Contest Wayanad Bypoll, Rahul Keeps Family Seat Raebareli

NEW DELHI :Less than a month after Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge justified Priyanka Gandhi’s distance from the electoral fray, the latter is set to make her debut from Kerala’s Wayanad, a Lok Sabha seat relinquished by her brother Rahul Gandhi.
A decade after making her formal entry into politics, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi has now decided to fight an election, eyeing to enter Parliament. Making two major announcements, the Congress on Monday said that Rahul Gandhi has decided to give up the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat in Kerala in favour of the family bastion of Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh and, capping years of speculation, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is finally making her electoral debut from the constituency he is vacating.
Announcing the decisions after a high-level Congress meeting, party president Mallikarjun Kharge, who was flanked by the Gandhi siblings, said the call on which constituency to vacate was taken now as the last day for doing so is Tuesday.
The party has chosen a safe seat for her Wayanad, the Congress stronghold in Kerala that her brother Rahul Gandhi won twice as a rank outsider in the last two Lok Sabha Elections. Party president Mallikarjun Kharge announced Priyanka’s name Monday at a special press briefing in New Delhi. It is to be seen how Priyanka fares in the bypoll, and who she finds as rival candidates from the CPM and the BJP.
“Priyanka Gandhi had said ‘ladki hoon, lad sakti hoon’ (I am a girl, I can fight) and this ladki can fight from there (Wayanad) now,” he said to laughter as he went on to thank Ms Gandhi for the Congress’ success in Amethi, Raebareli and other constituencies.
The 52-year-old Priyanka, whose name did the rounds as the Congress candidate for Amethi, Rae Bareli as well as Varanasi parliamentary seats, will finally make her debut in electoral politics from the safe environs of Wayanad in Kerala, a state that Congress has almost swept in 2019 as well as 2024 Lok Sabha elections. “I’m not nervous at all … I am very happy to be able to represent Wayanad. All I’ll say is that I won’t let them feel his (Rahul’s) absence… I have a good relation with Rae Bareli as I have worked there for 20 years and that relation will never break,” Priyanka said after her candidature was announced on Monday.
Deeply rooted in the legacy of the Nehru-Gandhi family, the daughter of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and senior Congress leader Sonia Gandhi is already a prominent figure in Indian politics.
But it was not before 2019 that she formally entered politics. Priyanka has often been compared to her grandmother, Indira Gandhi, mainly due to her appearance, and partly for her ability to connect with the masses.
Her entry into the electoral fray from Kerala is on expected lines as the Gandhis did not want to “abandon” Wayanad that accepted Rahul Gandhi with open arms and gave him victory with overwhelming margins of over 3 lakh votes both in the 2019 and the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections.
Priyanka Gandhi started her formal political journey in January 2019, right before of the Lok Sabha Elections. She was appointed the general secretary of All India Congress Committee (AICC) in charge of Eastern UP. In September 2020, Priyanka was made general secretary in charge of the entire UP. If Priyanka wins the Lok Sabha bypolls, it would be for the first time that three members of the Gandhi family will be in Parliament. Her mother Sonia Gandhi is a Rajya Sabha member from Rajasthan.

“The party has decided that Rahul Gandhi should keep the Raebareli seat because it has been close to him and his family for generations. The people of the constituency and people in the Congress feel this will be good for the party as well. More importantly, he has received love from the people of Wayanad and people there want him to retain the seat said Kharge.
The Congress leader said he has an emotional connection with both Raebareli and Wayanad and expressed his gratitude for the love has got from the people in the Kerala constituency while he was a Member of Parliament from there the past five years. “Priyanka will contest from Wayanad, but I will also go there frequently and we will fulfil all the promises we made to the people there. They gave me energy to fight in a very difficult time. I will be available for the people of Wayanad,” Mr Gandhi said.

“I am confident she (Priyanka) will win the election and she will be a very good representative. The people of Wayanad can think about it like this: They now have two MPs, one is my sister and the other is me. My doors are always open to you for the rest of my life and I love every person in Wayanad,” he added.
When Ms Gandhi was asked for a reaction, she said she was very happy and would not let the people of Wayanad feel her brother’s absence..”As he said, he will come many times with me. But I will work as hard and try to be a good representative. I have a very old connection with Raebareli and I have worked there for 20 years. That connection cannot break. I will help bhaiyya (big brother) in Raebareli and we will be available in both constituencies,” she said. Rahul Gandhi interjected and said both constituencies are getting two MPs.
Asked if she was nervous, Ms Gandhi said, “Not at all.”Mr Gandhi had won in Wayanad in 2019 despite suffering a shock defeat to Smriti Irani in his bastion of Amethi. In the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections, he won again in Wayanad by a margin of 3.64 lakh votes. This was eclipsed by his performance in Raebareli – helped by Sonia Gandhi’s emotional appeal to voters that she was handing her son to them – which he won with a margin of 3.9 lakh votes.
The Raebareli seat was held by Sonia Gandhi since 2004 until she moved to the Rajya Sabha earlier this year. Cementing its status as a Gandhi family bastion is the fact that it was also represented by Rahul Gandhi’s grandmother and former PM Indira Gandhi, and her husband Feroze Gandhi.
Priyanka is married to businessman Robert Vadra, who had repeatedly expressed his interest in contesting from Amethi in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections. The seat was eventually given to family loyalist Kishori Lal Sharma, who defeated BJP leader Smriti Irani.
The INDIA bloc won 233 seats out of 543 in the Lok Sabha elections with Congress emerging as its largest constituent with 99 seats. The election campaign saw a spirited fight back by the Congress with Priyanka playing a pivotal role in countering constant barbs from Modi and other BJP leaders. Countering Prime Minister Modi over his “gold and mangalsutra” remarks, an emotionally charged Priyanka reminded the voters that her mother Sonia Gandhi sacrificed her mangalsutra for the country.
(Bureau Report With Media Inputs).


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