Congress struggles to reclaim Raebareli, Amethi amid voter disappointment with Rahul Gandhi: ‘Woh zamana gaya…’

In Uttar Pradesh, Congress struggles to field candidates from Amethi and Raebareli, leaving seats vacant. Rahul Gandhi shifted to Wayanad after 2019 defeat to Smriti Irani. Voters in Amethi express disappointment with Congress leaders' absence in the constituency.

Livemint
Updated30 Apr 2024
Sonia Gandhi, right, widow of former Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, campaigns for her Congress party as her son Rahul and daughter Priyanka wave to supporters during a rally in Amethi in the state of Uttar Pradesh, 500 kilometers (300 miles) southeast of New Delhi, Sunday, Feb 1, 1998. This was the first time that Rahul campaigned with her mother. Amethi is associated with Rajiv Gandhi as he contested elections from here. Sonia was campaigning for Captain Satish Sharma, the Congress candidate from the constituency and a close confidante of Sonia
Sonia Gandhi, right, widow of former Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, campaigns for her Congress party as her son Rahul and daughter Priyanka wave to supporters during a rally in Amethi in the state of Uttar Pradesh, 500 kilometers (300 miles) southeast of New Delhi, Sunday, Feb 1, 1998. This was the first time that Rahul campaigned with her mother. Amethi is associated with Rajiv Gandhi as he contested elections from here. Sonia was campaigning for Captain Satish Sharma, the Congress candidate from the constituency and a close confidante of Sonia

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: In Uttar Pradesh, a stronghold of the previous generation Congress, ambivalence looms large as the Grand Old Party struggles to field candidates from Amethi, and Raebareli. After 2019 defeat to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s Smriti Irani, Rahul Gandhi shifted base to Kerala's Wayanad, while Sonia Gandhi made the move to Rajya Sabha, dropping out of 2024 Lok Sabha polls, leaving the Raebareli seat vacant. 

Rahul Gandhi was declared as the Wayanad candidate for Congress in the Lok Sabha polls, resting apprehensions that the Congress leader would be fielded to take on BJP's Smriti Irani again. 

In 2014, Rahul Gandhi has won the Amethi seat, his third time, defeating Smriti Irani. Gandhi had bagged 46.72% of the total votes, while Irani got 34.39%. However, tables tuned in 2019 when Smriti Irani won the Congress bastion with 49.71% votes, and Gandhi managed 43.86%. 

Amethi district Congress president Pradeep Singhal says he is confident Rahul Gandhi will again contest from the seat. And, five years after he lost the family seat to the BJP’s Smriti Irani, Singhal says, “He will win", reports Indian Express. 

Rahul Gandhi won the seat thrice between 2004 and 2014, and before that it was held by Sonia Gandhi.

But what does Amethi say?

Indian Express talked to few voters, where the emotion in the Congress bastion seems to be ‘disappointed’ with Congress leaders. According to the report, a shopkeeper in Gauriganj, who remains a loyal Rahul voter, admits the Congress leader continues to let Amethi drift away. “Even if he doesn’t do much… an MP should be in the constituency often.”

Another voter said, “Rahul, or for that matter any leader, can’t just file his nomination, wave at the people and vanish. Woh zamana chala gaya (Those times are gone).”

This is where Smriti Irani stands to gain chance, as right ahead of the Lok Sabha polls 2024, she registered herself as a voter in Amethi, buying as house in an Amethi village. In February, she performed a house-warming ceremony for the house she has bought in Gauriganj.

India waits to see who Congress fields in Raebareli, and Amethi, amid speculations that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra might just make her poll debut from Raebareli this year. 

According to a Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will be declared as Amethi candidate as soon as Wayanad votes on 26 April. 

Meanwhile in Raebareli, Indian Express reports, BJP and Congress are almost in the same boat, waiting for their candidates. The common reply of voters in this Lok Sabha constituency is, “Let the candidates be announced. Phir pata chalega kaisi takkar hoti hai (Then we will know what kind of a fight it is).”

Sonia Gandhi had won the seat in 2019, defeating BJP’s Dinesh Pratap Singh, a minister in the Uttar Pradesh government, by over 1.67 lakh votes. In Raebareli, Congress supporters seems to have made peace with Sonia Gandhi's absence, attributing it to her ill health.

According to IE report, a section of BJP believes only a candidate from “outside” – like Irani in Amethi — stands a chance against Priyanka. “The party will not be completely united if Singh or Pandey contests,” a leader says.

The issues that plagues that minds of the voters in Raebareli and Amethi, oddly does not include Ayodhya Ram Mandir or INDIA bloc's demand for caste census. More common is the mention of “the use of ED and CBI” by the Modi government, though sarcastically in the context of leaders switching sides, reports IE.

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HomeElectionsCongress struggles to reclaim Raebareli, Amethi amid voter disappointment with Rahul Gandhi: ‘Woh zamana gaya…’

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