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Mainstream, VOL 62 No 16-17, April 20, April 27, 2024

Rahul, Pryanka should not run away from Amethi, Rae Bareli | Faraz Ahmad

Saturday 20 April 2024, by Faraz Ahmad


May 1, 2024

Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka are caught in a catch 22 situation consciously and deliberately created by the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and its chief campaigner Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It’s a Hamletian situation of ‘to be or not to be’ or rather to contest or not to contest. But the stakes are too hight for them to let go of this challenge—the challenge of contesting from Amethi and Rae Bareli.

Sonia Gandhi on account of her failing health and inability to campaign vigorously has virtually retired from active politics and excused herself from the Lok Sabha, by opting for the Rajya Sabha instead, understandable. Rahul lost to Smriti Irani in the 2019 elections and returned to the Lok Sabha from Wayanad in Kerala. This time he again filed his nominations from Wayanad and the polling on that seat is over.

The polling for these two seats is scheduled for May 20 and the last date for filing nominations is May 3. By the time this piece is published, that date may have passed and therefore its publication can hardly influence their decision to contest or not to contest. But contest they should at all costs.

Modi and his BJP are fighting with their back to the wall and therefore Modi is making all sorts of snide remarks, poking fun at Rahul calling him Shehzada and using such other pejorative terms to deter Rahul from returning to contest from Amethi whose victory against Smritti Irani this time is certain. Similarly were Priyanka to leave Rae Bareli, anyone else from their party would be no match and the party would risk losing that seat.

But most important, at this stage a large mass of people in the Hindi heartland, and I am not talking of Muslims alone, impressed by Rahul’s mass contact through those two yatras across the length and breadth of dear India, are anxious to vote for the INDIA bloc led by the Congress party. The Congress party has to take that lead and Rahul and Priyanka have to lead from the front, even if they fear losing one or both the seats. Sensing the significance of the current political scenario, Samajwadi Party president and former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav decided to enter the electoral fray.

Rahul and Priyanka’s decision to contest from Amethi and Rae Bareli, combined with Akhilesh contest from Kanauj would send electric waves to other candidates contesting on Congress and SP tickets. More so Congress candidates contesting on 17 seats were to gain tremendous morale boost. But were they to abandon their home turf, Modi would go to town saying they fled and abandoned a challenge, resulting in a huge demoralising effect on other Congress and even INDIA candidates in UP at least— it will be like giving a walkover to Modi without a challenge. And all Rahul and Priyanka’s efforts so far will go waste.

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