Here's How Rahul Gandhi's Decision To Retain Raebareli Seat Will Help Revive Congress In Uttar Pradesh

Here's How Rahul Gandhi's Decision To Retain Raebareli Seat Will Help Revive Congress In Uttar Pradesh

The resurgence of the Congress party in the state following the Lok Sabha election results has injected new vigor into its ranks.

Rahul MUpdated: Tuesday, June 18, 2024, 02:07 PM IST
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Putting an end to speculation, the Congress party announced on Monday that former party president Rahul Gandhi will retain the Uttar Pradesh Raebareli Lok Sabha seat and vacate Kerala's Wayanad seat. Rahul's sister, Priyanka Gandhi, will contest the bypoll from Wayanad, marking the beginning of her electoral politics journey.

In the recently concluded general election, Rahul Gandhi won both the seats he contested—Raebareli and Wayanad.

According to reports, Rahul Gandhi wrote to the Lok Sabha Speaker's office on Monday, informing them of his decision to retain the Raebareli seat.

Rahul Gandhi defeated BJP's Dinesh Pratap Singh in Raebareli with a margin of over 3.9 lakh votes. In Wayanad, he won against CPI's Annie Raja with over 3.64 lakh votes.

In 2019, Rahul Gandhi faced an embarrassing defeat at the hands of BJP's Smriti Irani in Uttar Pradesh's Amethi seat. However, he reached Parliament from the Wayanad seat, securing around 65 percent of the vote in the constituency.

Given the huge vote shares Rahul garnered in the last two elections in Wayanad, Priyanka is likely to face no major challenge in the by-poll. If she gets elected from the constituency, which is very much likely, it will bring three members of the Gandhi family into Parliament. Sonia Gandhi became a Rajya Sabha member this year from the state of Rajasthan.

After the party announced the decision, addressing the media Rahul thanked the people of Wayanad for electing him twice. He said, "Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will fight from elections from Wayanad but I will also periodically visit Wayanad."

Rahul said that it was tough for him to decide between both the seat. "I have an old relationship with Raebareli, I am happy that I will get to represent them again but it was a tough decision," he added.

He expressed confidence in Sister Priyanka and said, "I am confident that she is going to win the elections. The people of Wayanad can now feel they have two members of Parliament: my sister and me. My doors are always open for the people of Wayanad. I love every single person in Wayanad."

Why did Rahul choose Raebareli over Wayanad?

Post-2009 Lok Sabha election, the Congress party's seat tally depleted in Uttar Pradesh. The grand old party won 2 seats in 2014 while securing 7.53% of the total polled votes. In the 2019 election, the it almost got wiped out, winning just one seat—Raebareli, from where Sonia Gandhi won. Party's vote share was reduced to 6.36%.

This year, the Congress party saw an upward trend after a decade in terms of vote share and seats in the northern state. It won 6 seats and a total of 9.46 percent of the votes in the state.

Soon after the Lok Sabha elections were announced, the Congress party announced Rahul Gandhi's candidature from Wayanad. Wayanad polled in the second phase on April 26. After voting concluded in Wayanad, the Congress party remained indecisive about fielding Rahul Gandhi from one of the two high-profile seats in Uttar Pradesh. Before filing his election nomination in Raebareli on the last day for filing nominations, there was speculation that he might contest from Amethi and that his sister Priyanka would contest from the seat vacated by Sonia Gandhi.

Then, it was reported that Rahul Gandhi was reluctant to contest from any seat other than Wayanad. He had raised concerns within the party that if he got elected from both seats, it would be difficult for him to choose one.

Ultimately, he contested and won the Raebareli seat.

Resurgence of party in Uttar Pradesh

Rahul Gandhi's decision to opt for Raebareli over Wayanad is underpinned by significant factors. The resurgence of the Congress party in the state following the Lok Sabha election results has injected new vigor into its ranks. By retaining this important seat, the former Congress leadership anticipates further strengthening the party's foothold in the region, with ambitious plans to consolidate and expand its influence in the upcoming state assembly elections.

Congress spokesperson on Tuesday, in a social media post said, "Very soon you (BJP leaders) will see the effect of this (Rahul Gandhi's) decision. This series of victories that is going to start with the upcoming by-elections of 10 assembly seats will become a storm in 2027. Rahul Gandhi's staying in Uttar Pradesh will completely clean the half-destroyed BJP, I can say this with full confidence."

Supriya Shrinate's statement hints at nothing but a boost in the morale of party workers and leaders in the state after Rahul's decision.

Pocket borough

Equally compelling is the historical significance of Raebareli as a bastion of the Congress party. Since 1952, when Rahul's grandfather Feroze Gandhi was first elected from this constituency, it has remained a steadfast stronghold. Following Feroze Gandhi's tenure, the seat was represented by none other than former prime minister Indira Gandhi. Over the years, the constituency has also elected Rahul's distant relatives, Arun Nehru and Sheila Kaul, to the lower house of Parliament, affirming its deep-rooted connection with the Nehru-Gandhi legacy. Sonia Gandhi herself contested and held this seat from 2004 until just before the recent Lok Sabha elections.

'South Indian Party' tag

Rahul's decision signals the Congress party's intent to dispel the perception of being a 'South Indian Party'. This term was frequently wielded by BJP leaders to criticise the Congress after Rahul Gandhi chose to contest from Wayanad for a second consecutive election. By opting to represent a constituency in a North Indian state, Rahul aims to help the Congress transcend this label.

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