NB Explains | Congress picks Rahul Gandhi from Rae Bareli, KL Sharma from Amethi

NewsBharati    03-May-2024 10:45:38 AM
Total Views |
New Delhi, May 3: Putting an end to all speculations, the Congress announced its candidates for the traditional Gandhi family seats of Amethi and Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh. Senior leader Rahul Gandhi has switched to Rae Bareli, perhaps a safer seat than Amethi, from where he lost to Union minister Smriti Irani in 2019, while party's loyalist KL Sharma will be contesting from Amethi. It will be after 25 years that no Gandhi will be in the fray from Amethi.

rahul gandhi rae bareli kl sharma amethi

Rahul Gandhi will be following in the footsteps of his grandfather Feroze Gandhi, grandmother Indira Gandhi, and mother Sonia Gandhi, to contest from Rae Bareli, which is considered the last bastion of the family.

The announcement came on the last day of filing nominations for the two seats, which go to polls on May 20.

Why is Rahul Gandhi contesting from Rae Bareli?

Rae Bareli has been stronghold of the Gandhis who have represented it since 1952. Feroze Gandhi won the seat in 1952 and 1957. Indira Gandhi was the Rae Bareli Member of Parliament (MP) between 1967 and 1977. She returned to Parliament in 1980 after losing the 1977 election post-Emergency to Raj Narain. Indira Gandhi wrested Rae Bareli in 1980 but retained her other seat, Medak, in undivided Andhra Pradesh. From 2004, Sonia Gandhi remained the Rae Bareli MP. Close relatives Arun Nehru and Shiela Kaul have also represented this seat.

The main reason behind Rahul shifting to Rae Bareli is that Amethi is no longer a family seat after the 2019 loss. Plus, Rae Bareli is a safer seat compared to Amethi after Congress got wiped out from other seats in Uttar Pradesh, Sonia Gandhi managed to get 55.8% of the votes in Rae Bareli in 2019 election.

What about Amethi?

After Priyanka Gandhi opted to campaign instead of contesting for the polls, the party was looking for a suitable candidate for Amethi. For decades, Sharma, a staunch loyalist of the Gandhi family, managed Amethi and Rae Bareli seats for the Gandhis.

At one point, the party was considering former MP Shiela Kaul’s grandson as a possible candidate from Amethi. But it decided to reward Sharma, a family loyalist, with a ticket. Sharma was nominated against Irani even as the party workers expected either Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi to contest.