LUCKNOW: Priyanaka Gandhi’s appointment as Congress general secretary for eastern UP has enthused the party cadre in Purvanchal and within no time of the announcement of her new role, posters have cropped up in Varanasi, urging Congress leadership to pit Priyanka against PM Modi on his parliamentary turf in upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The posters put up by Congress workers in the holy city say: “Kashi Ki Janta Kare Pukar, Priyanka Gandhi Ho Sansad Hamaar’ (People in Kasi want Priyanka Gandhi to be our law-maker) also seen written at the bottom of the poster is ‘We want Priyanka’.
The posters carry the image of Congress President Rahul Gandhi and senior Congress leader Ajay Rai along with the picture of Priyanka Gandhi.
“She should debut as MP from Varanasi. We will put our might to ensure her victory from here. It will be a lesson for the BJP as PM Modi will never turn to Varanasi again,” said an enthused Congress worker.
In 2014 elections, PM Modi had won from Varanasi defeating his nearest rival Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Admi Party by a margin of over 3.7 lakh votes. Congress’s Ajai Rai had remained second runner up securing 75,614 votes. BSP and SP were relegated to fourth and fifth positions respectively.
However, the political circles of UP are replete with sparks of speculations over Priyanka’s candidature and the constituency she may be fielded from in the coming general elections. Even senior state Congress leaders are divided over the issue.
While some feel that in the wake of Sonia Gandhi’s medical condition, daughter Priyanka may replace her in Rae Bareli as she already has the pulse of the constituency where she has played poll manager for her mother in the past elections. Some others feel that Priyanka may test poll waters in Amethi and Rahul Gandhi may look for some other seat, more so, Chhindwara, MP CM Kamalnath’s stronghold.
Rahul Gandhi has been representing Amethi in Lok Sabha for the last three terms. In 2014, BJP had fielded Union textile minister Smriti Irani Against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi. Though she lost the seat but managed to shrink the victory margin of Gandhi from over three lakh in 2009 to just a little over a lakh in 2014. Even after losing Amethi, Smriti Irani has been nurturing it for the last 4.5 years and continued to make her presence registered there frequently much to Rahul Gandhi’s unease.
On the other, Chhindwara is also a Congress bastion which has been represented by MP CM Kamalnath eight times in a row. “Since Kamalnath will vacate the seat, it will be a safe and secure play for the Congress chief,” feels a political observer.
The other advantage of contesting from Chhindwara would be that the Congress president would be able to focus on the entire country instead of remaining focussed on his own seat.