AMETHI: Breaking her silence over reasons for not contesting Lok Sabha elections from Varanasi against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress General Secretary for UP-East Priyanka Gandhi Tuesday said she had the "responsibility of looking after 41 seats and could not focus on just one".
"I didn't pull out. I took the advice of all senior leaders of our party and the advice of my colleagues in Uttar Pradesh and they firmly felt that I have a responsibility of looking after 41 seats," she told newspersons in Amethi from where her brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi is seeking re-election.
"All my candidates are still wanting me to go to their constituencies and I felt that they will be a little disappointed if I focussed only on one place," she said, explaining the reason behind taking the decision.
Priyanka is in-charge of 41 Lok Sabha seats in the eastern part of the state.
Uttar Pradesh has 80 Lok Sabha seats and another party general secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia is in charge of the remaining constituencies.
To a question on whether deciding against contesting in the constituency would send a wrong signal, she said, "No I don't think so. I had said from the start that I will do what my party says. My party decided this and I am happy to follow the instructions."
Earlier, there was a buzz that Priyanka would fight the election from the prestigious seat.
She had sent ripples across the political spectrum with her reply to party workers' request to contest the ongoing general elections from her mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's parliamentary constituency Rae Bareli.
Responding to them, she had asked, "Why not Varanasi?" Even a few days back, Priyanka had reiterated she was willing to contest from Varanasi if the Congress president asks her to do so.
On his part, the Congress President, in an interview, had added to the speculation by saying he would like to keep the matter a suspense.
However, the Congress last week declared Ajai Rai as its candidate against Modi.
Rai had finished a distant third during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in Varanasi.