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HomeIndiaRahul to retain Raebareli, Priyanka to contest from Wayanad: Congress

Rahul to retain Raebareli, Priyanka to contest from Wayanad: Congress

New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram, June 17: Congress President Mallikarjuna Kharge announced on Monday that Rahul Gandhi, who was elected from both Kerala’s Wayanad and UP’s Raebareli in the recent Lok Sabha elections, will relinquish the former seat where Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi will be fielded as the party candidate for the ensuing bypoll.

The announcement, which followed consultations between the Gandhi family and top Congress leaders, was greeted with jubilation by party leaders and allies in Kerala. “We all in the Congress have decided that Rahul Gandhi will remain the MP from Raebareli. He had also fought from Wayanad, whose people are very supportive. Thus we have decided that Priyanka Gandhi will fight the polls from Wayanad,” Kharge said. Rahul Gandhi said that he has “an emotional relationship with Raebareli and the people of Wayanad”. “In the last five years, the people of Wayanad stood with me and gave me energy to fight in a very difficult time. I will stand by the commitments that we’ve made. We will deliver on those commitments,” he said. “I’m confident that Priyanka is going to win the elections and will be a very good representative for the people of Wayanad. My doors are always open for the people of Wayanad for the rest of my life & I love every single person in Wayanad,” he added. “I’m very happy to be able to represent Wayanad. I won’t let the people of Wayanad feel Rahul ji’s absence. I will try my best to be a good representative,” Priyanka Gandhi said.

She also said that she had a very old bond with Raebareli, which cannot be broken at any cost. “Me and Rahul will be present both in Raebareli and Wayanad,” she added. Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly, V.D. Satheesan, said that Priyanka Gandhi would win the bypoll with the highest margin ever seen in Kerala. “Rahul and the Congress hold Wayanad dear and they have decided to send Priyanka. We welcome Priyanka to Wayanad… She will win with the biggest ever margin,” Satheesan wrote on his Facebook page. Rahul Gandhi had retained Wayanad with ease, though it came with a reduced margin when he finished with around 3.64 lakh votes, down from 4.37 lakh in 2019. Incidentally, in Wayanad and among many Congress leaders, it was a foregone conclusion that due to political compulsions and the need to revive the party in the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi would vacate Wayanad and speculation was rife that Priyanka Gandhi would replace him.

The speculation began, as at the time of his election campaign in Raebareli, his mother and former Congress President Sonia Gandhi, in her introductory speech, said that she was bowing out and had brought in her son to replace her. The Wayanad Lok Sabha seat, ever since it was formed in 2009 by carving out areas from the Kannur, Kozhikode, and Malappuram Lok Sabha constituencies, has been one of the safest seats of the Congress, and the Gandhi family holds a special place for Wayanad’s voters. If Priyanka Gandhi had not succeeded Rahul Gandhi, the CPI-M-led Left and the BJP would have used it against the Congress to claim the seat was not that important for the party. Incidentally, her presence in the constituency, when she came to campaign for Rahul Gandhi during the 2019 and 2024 polls, had drawn massive crowds.

On Rahul Gandhi’s statement during his recent Wayanad visit that he is in a dilemma about Raebareli and Wayanad but whatever decision he takes, people in both these constituencies will be happy, Congress General Secretary (Organisation), K.C. Venugopal, said there was no drama in this decision. “We had informed that the Congress will take the appropriate decision at the appropriate time. Allow us the prerogative to decide when we should decide. We had time till tomorrow and we have decided today,” he said. Senior Indian Union Muslim League legislator P.K. Kunhalikutty, whose party is the second-biggest member of the Congress-led UDF in the state, said this is the best decision that has been made. “We and our supreme leader Thangal had said that we want Priyanka to contest. The best decision has come and we all are happy,” said Kunhalikutty. IUML supremo Panakkad Sayyid Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal told the media that they had informed the Gandhi family that in case Rahul Gandhi vacates Wayanad, they want Priyanka Gandhi to replace him. “The INDIA bloc will be the biggest beneficiary as we need Priyanka also along with Rahul to take on (PM Narendra) Modi inside the Parliament. We are extremely delighted by the decision to have Priyanka. You just wait and see the margin by which she is going to win,” he said.

Meanwhile, top CPI leader Annie Raja, who contested against Rahul Gandhi this time, said she stands by what she said earlier — when any person contests from two constituencies, that person should decide which one will be vacated. “I stand by what I said,” said Annie Raja, wife of CPI Secretary D. Raja, adding that her party will definitely field its candidate against Priyanka Gandhi.

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