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Sonia Gandhi Likely to Shift to Rajya Sabha, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Contest in Raebareli

Sonia Gandhi Likely to Shift to Rajya Sabha, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Contest in Raebareli

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Feb 12: The former Congress president and currently the head of the Gandhi family is likely to stay away from contesting the coming Lok Sabha elections handing over the baton to her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to join the electoral arena.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will contest the Lok Sabha polls from the family turf of Raebareli, the party sources said. The constituency, which was originally represented by the former prime minister Mrs India Gandhi, was later taken over by Mrs Sonia Gandhi when she joined politics.

Mrs Gandhi, 77, who has not been keeping well, is likely to be nominated for the Rajya Sabha moving away from the hurly burly of Lok Sabha elections. The party sources said Mrs Gandhi is expected to be the upper house candidate from Rajasthan and is likely to file nomination in Jaipur in the coming round of Rajya Sabha election.

For the Congress, it would be a huge Change of Guard. Mrs Gandhi has been representing Raebareli in the Lok Sabha since 2006. She had won the seat even in 2019, when the Congress performance was at its all-time low and Rahul Gandhi lost the other family turf of Uttar Pradesh — Amethi — to the BJP’s Smriti Irani.

For Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, whose entry in electoral politics has been speculated on for decades, this is seen as a safe seat.  The constituency, a Congress bastion since 1950s, was first represented by her grandfather Feroze Gandhi. It was expected that Ms Gandhi Vadra would contest in 2019 when she formally entered politics in January that year. Many had hoped for a face-off between her and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi.
But Rahul Gandhi, who was heading the party that time, entrusted her with rejuvenating the party in Uttar Pradesh as the AICC General Secretary in charge of the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh and then as the General Secretary in charge of the entire Uttar Pradesh.

But that effort had crash-landed with the BJP’s massive victory from the state in 2019 and Yogi Adityanath’s triumphant return to power in the state in 2022. Ms Gandhi Vadra’s then comrade-in-arms, Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was also in charge of Uttar Pradesh, has since joined the BJP.

Ms Gandhi Vadra, a crowd -puller who has represented her mother for years in Raebareli, is seen as the Congress’s big hope for rejuvenation in the state ahead of the national election.

A Fiery speaker, Ms Vadra on Sunday had attacked Mr Modi over reports of barricading and laying of nails on roads at certain points near the Delhi border ahead of the farmers’ proposed ‘Delhi Chalo’ march. Sharing a video of nails laid on roads and multiple barricades put up to stop farmers from marching into the national capital on ‘X’, the Congress general secretary asked why the tillers were being treated in this manner.

Prohibitory orders under CrPC section 144, which bars large gatherings, were imposed in the northeast district of the national capital since Sunday in view of the farmers’ march on Tuesday. A large number of farmers from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab are expected to march towards the national capital on Tuesday as part of the march organised by around 200 farm unions.

“Is laying thorns-nails in the path of farmers ‘amritkaal’ or ‘anyaykaal’? This insensitive and anti-farmer attitude had cost the lives of 750 farmers. Working against farmers and not even allowing them to raise their voice – what kind of government does this,” Ms Gandhi said in a post in Hindi.

“The promise made to the farmers was not fulfilled – neither was the MSP law made nor was the income of farmers doubled – if farmers do not come to the government of their own country, where else will they go,” she added.

“Mr Prime Minister! Why such behaviour with the country’s farmers? Why don’t you fulfil the promises made to farmers,” the Congress leader had said. According to an order issued by Deputy Commissioner of Police (northeast) Joy Tirkey, farmers were likely to sit at Delhi borders till their demands were met.

“Keeping in view the kind of behaviour and adamant approach farmers showed during protests in the past, there is a possibility of mobilisation/activities of farmers/supporters from their respective districts to Delhi along with Tractor/Trolleys/Arms. Farmers will also come from Haryana, Punjab, UP, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, MP and other possible areas,” it said.

Several farmer associations, mostly from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab, have called for the march on Tuesday to demand a law guaranteeing Minimum Support Price for their produce, one of the conditions they had set when they agreed to withdraw their agitation in 2021.

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