The recently appointed Congress chief for Uttar Pradesh, Ajay Rai, asserted on Friday that Rahul Gandhi is set to contest the 2024 Lok Sabha elections from the Amethi constituency.
Addressing questions from journalists regarding Gandhi's potential contest from the previous Congress stronghold in UP, Rai stated, "Without a doubt, Rahul Gandhi will contest the upcoming election from Amethi. The residents of Amethi are keen on this."
Responding to a query about Priyanka Gandhi's possible candidacy in Varanasi, Rai remarked, "Should Priyanka Gandhi express her desire to contest from Varanasi, each and every member of our party will put forth their utmost effort to ensure her victory."
In the context of BJP's Smriti Irani's remark about Rahul Gandhi refraining from contesting elections in Amethi and evading the challenge, Ajay Rai dismissed the assertion and labeled Smriti Irani herself as "perturbed."
"She is evidently rattled. Remember, she promised sugar at ₹13 per kg, but has she been able to fulfill that commitment? The people of Amethi are here today seeking answers. Ask Smriti Irani what happened to her pledge of providing sugar at ₹13 per kg in exchange for votes for the BJP. The public demands accountability," Ajay Rai declared during his interaction with the press.
Ajay Rai appointed UP Congress chief
On Thursday, the Congress party announced the immediate appointment of Ajay Rai, a former MLA, as the President of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee.
In an official statement, the party conveyed its gratitude for the efforts made by the departing PCC President Brijlal Khabri, a former MP, as well as all the zonal Presidents.
Ajay Rai had contested the Varanasi seat against PM Modi in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Despite his substantial loss to PM Modi by a significant margin, Rai managed to secure only a 14 percent portion of the overall votes.
Notably, Brijlal Khabri will hold the distinction of having the briefest tenure as UPCC President, having served for just 10 months.
Rahul Gandhi and history of Amethi seat
In a significant upset, the former Congress president faced defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Amethi against the BJP's Smriti Irani. At that time, Amethi was considered a stronghold of the grand old party, and Gandhi had held the seat since the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, marking his entry into active politics.
The initial Member of Parliament (MP) for Amethi was Vidya Dhar Bajpai of the INC, who secured re-election in 1971. In the 1977 election, the constituency saw a change when Ravindra Pratap Singh of the Janata Party became its MP. However, Singh's reign ended in 1980 when Sanjay Gandhi of the INC emerged victorious. Tragically, Sanjay Gandhi passed away in a plane crash later that year. A by-election in 1981 resulted in a victory for his brother, Rajiv Gandhi, who continued representing the constituency until 1991 when he was assassinated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The by-election that followed was won by Satish Sharma of the INC, and he secured re-election in 1996.
In the 1998 election, the BJP's Sanjay Singh defeated Sharma. From 1999 to 2004, Sonia Gandhi, wife of Rajiv Gandhi, took up the mantle as the representative of the constituency. Following her tenure, her son Rahul Gandhi assumed the role from 2004 to 2019. This established a legacy of Amethi being represented by four members of the Nehru–Gandhi family.
However, the impregnable Congress bastion was breached in the 2019 general elections by Smriti Irani of the BJP.