UP Lok Sabha Elections 2024: 'I Hold Similar Bond With Rae Bareli As With My Mother, Sister,' Says Rahul Gandhi, Shares Emotional Video

UP Lok Sabha Elections 2024: 'I Hold Similar Bond With Rae Bareli As With My Mother, Sister,' Says Rahul Gandhi, Shares Emotional Video

Rahul Gandhi will compete against BJP's Dinesh Pratap Singh, a minister in Yogi Adityanath's government. Singh previously contested the 2019 election against Sonia Gandhi, losing by over 100,000 votes.

BISWAJEET BANERJEEUpdated: Thursday, May 16, 2024, 06:25 PM IST
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Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi | | X

Rae Bareli: The Congress party, which has retained only the Rae Bareli seat in Uttar Pradesh after losing its traditional stronghold Amethi in the last Lok Sabha elections, faces a critical test in the upcoming polls. In a strategic move, Rahul Gandhi has been fielded from Rae Bareli, a decision political analysts believe could influence the outcomes in Amethi and 16 other constituencies across the state.

Rahul Gandhi will compete against BJP's Dinesh Pratap Singh, a minister in Yogi Adityanath's government. Singh previously contested the 2019 election against Sonia Gandhi, losing by over 100,000 votes.

To rally support, Rahul Gandhi has released an emotional video highlighting his family's deep-rooted connection with Amethi and Rae Bareli. In the six-minute clip, he states, “Our family has shared a bond of over a century with Amethi and Rae Bareli. These ties are as significant as family and friendship. Just as I cherish my relationship with my mother and sister, I hold a similar bond with Rae Bareli. The local cuisine, particularly 'Arhar ki Dal,' is unmatched.”

However, while emotions play a significant role in politics, they do not guarantee victory. Recognizing the high stakes, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has taken charge of the campaign, and former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has been brought in to support the efforts in Rae Bareli.

Meanwhile, the BJP is making a concerted effort, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath scheduled to hold rallies in the region. Rae Bareli has been a stronghold for the Gandhi family, with Congress winning every election since independence except in 1977, 1996, and 1998.

In 1977, Raj Narain defeated Indira Gandhi in a historic election. The BJP won during the Ram Mandir movement in 1996 and 1998, with Ashok Singh as their candidate. The Gandhi family's ongoing representation and local development initiatives, such as factory establishments and infrastructure improvements, have helped maintain their influence.

In 1999, after the defection of sitting MP Ashok Singh to Congress, Satish Sharma won the seat. This time, Dinesh Singh, a former Congress member, is contesting for the BJP. Local journalist Ravindra Sharma notes the Gandhi family's deep connection to Rae Bareli but points out that Dinesh Pratap Singh's significant vote share in the last election signals a tougher battle this time.

The BJP is promoting its development achievements, such as AIIMS OPD services, increased rail coach production, and expanded road networks, to counter claims of neglect. The Ram Mandir issue also resonates with the local population.

Since 2009, the Samajwadi Party (SP) has not fielded a candidate in Rae Bareli, instead allying with Congress. Many SP members participated in the Congress candidate’s nomination, indicating strong support.

Rae Bareli's five assembly seats include SP representatives from Sareni, Unchahar, Bachhrawan, and Harchandpur, while the Sadar seat is held by the BJP. However, Unchahar MLA Manoj Pandey has switched allegiance to the BJP.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has nominated Thakur Prasad Yadav for this election. Yadav, previously a candidate from the Sareni assembly constituency, aims to mobilize the BSP cadre and his community.

The BJP is grappling with internal discord. Tensions between BJP MLA Aditi Singh and Dinesh Pratap Singh are evident, with both leaders often avoiding joint appearances. Similar issues persist between Unchahar MLA Manoj Pandey and Dinesh Singh. Efforts by Deputy CM Brajesh Pathak and the BJP state president to reconcile these differences have had limited success.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has also attempted to mediate, but the results have been negligible. As the election approaches, the outcome in Rae Bareli will be a significant indicator of Congress's resilience and the BJP's ability to maintain its dominance amidst internal and external challenges. Rae Bareli goes to the polls on May 20.

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