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2024 LS polls: Will Congress field Priyanka Gandhi from Rae Bareli?

With Sonia Gandhi likely to be nominated for Rajya Sabha, Congress leadership is hoping to persuade Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to save the Nehru-Gandhi family bastion from falling into the Bharatiya Janata Party’s lap

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Niraj Sharma
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Priayanka Gandhi Vadra and Sonia Gandhi

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi: With former United Progressive Alliance chief Sonia Gandhi unlikely to contest from Rae Bareli in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, the Congress is contemplating to field her daughter Priyanka from the seat.

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It is understood that Sonia is not keen on entering the electoral fray in the upcoming general elections due to her ongoing health issues. 

The Congress is likely to nominate its former party chief to the Rajya Sabha during the ongoing contest for the Upper House to maintain her status as a Member of Parliament. 

In Sonia’s absence, the leadership of the grand old party is hoping to persuade Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to save the Nehru-Gandhi family bastion from falling into the Bharatiya Janata Party’s lap, sources said.

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While Priyanka’s candidature from Rae Bareli is being discussed, it is also being seen as an attempt at ensuring her command at the reins of the party in the crucial northern Indian state. 

With battle lines drawn for the 2024 general elections, the Congress wants to focus on Uttar Pradesh this time and expects that her candidature will strengthen the party and enthuse the cadre in the state.

Even though the outcome for Congress wasn’t too positive in the last Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, the party feels that there was no dearth in the hard work of Priyanka Gandhi. Party leaders say that if Priyanka enters the electoral fray, the party will benefit across North India, including UP.

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Priyanka Gandhi had recently also relinquished responsibility as General Secretary in-charge for UP, and she can now fully concentrate on protecting the family bastion from falling into the saffron lap, sources pointed out.

Why does Congress want Priyanka to contest from UP?

With 80 Lok Sabha seats, Uttar Pradesh has been the biggest contributor to the BJP’s electoral cause. The state electorate has wholeheartedly consecutively backed the duo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath over the last four consecutive polls in the state, two Lok Sabha and two state Assembly polls.  

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And accepting the importance of Uttar Pradesh in national politics, the Congress is desperate to break the jinx of continuously losing in the state and dislodge the saffron stranglehold on the state.

It was also felt by the Congress that fielding Priyanka would enthuse its cadre and fuel the party organisation to work for the victory of INDIA bloc candidates, sources said.

In keeping with this thought process, the grand old party also needs to finalise its seat-sharing arrangement with its INDIA bloc allies in Uttar Pradesh soon, if it wants to present a serious challenge to the BJP. 

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The SP has been trying to finalise the seat-sharing arrangement with the Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal over the past few weeks. However, there seems to be a reluctance on the part of the grand old party’s top leadership on the division of seats in the curial state.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi set to seek a mandate for a third consecutive term, it is time that the Congress decides to think out of the box ahead of the crucial 2024 general elections. 

"Following the Pran Pratishtha at Ram Janmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya the candidature of Priyanka may not be as effective as the Congress’ top leadership feels," said a political analysis adding that the least the grand old party needs to do is to try and regain its past glory in Uttar Pradesh by giving a tough contest to the saffron alliance.

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