Rahul Gandhi May Contest From Raebareli, Say Congress Sources

Lok Sabha Election 2024: The Gandhi siblings were told to take a call on the issue by Thursday night.

New Delhi:

Congress’s Rahul Gandhi may contest from family bastion Raebareli – the seat vacated recently by his mother Sonia Gandhi — and the party could field senior leader and longtime Gandhi family loyalist KL Sharma from Amethi, sources have told NDTV. The Gandhi siblings were told to take a call on contesting from the two VIP seats in Uttar Pradesh by Thursday night. But the party is yet to make a formal announcement. Friday is the last date for filing of nomination.

At a meeting with Rahul Gandhi on Thursday evening, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge had suggested that both siblings contest from the two bastions held for decades by the family, but left the final decision to them in view of their “knowledge of the ground reality” in the state.

KL Sharma is one of the close aides of the Gandhi family and represented Sonia Gandhi in the constituency when she was its MP. Mrs Gandhi has now moved onto the Rajya Sabha, leaving a vacuum in which Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was expected to step in.   

Ms Gandhi Vadra, though, remains firm on her decision not to contest despite much pressure. Party sources hinted that her reluctance stems from the fact that her victory from Raebareli would place all three Gandhi family members in parliament, reinforcing the BJP accusation of dynasty politics.

Sources said Mr Kharge had also suggested that not contesting would send a wrong message, and its ramifications would be felt not just in Uttar Pradesh but the rest of the country. Rahul Gandhi had lost Amethi to the BJP’s Union minister Smriti Irani in 2019 and there is expectation that he would try to win it back this time. Mr Gandhi has contested from Kerala’s Wayanad, which he represents in parliament. 

The Congress has been delaying the decision on candidates for the two seats for weeks. As the suspense grew, Congress workers went into protest mode in Amethi earlier this week, seeking a member of the Gandhi family as candidate. Election for both seats is due on May 20, the fifth phase.