The Congress on Thursday fielded Ajay Rai from Varanasi to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ending speculation on party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra fighting polls from the temple town in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress also fielded Madhusudan Tiwari from Gorakhpur against BJP’s actor-turned politician Ravi Kishan.
Speculation on Priyanka Gandhi making her political debut from Varanasi was fuelled after Congress president Rahul Gandhi, to a question on whether he planned to field his sister against PM Modi, said last week, “I will leave you in suspense. Suspense is not always a bad thing.”
The Congress fielded Ajai Rai against Modi
The Congress reportedly debated pitting Priyanka Gandhi, often called its “Brahmastra“, against PM Modi but caution won out.
Last week, Rahul Gandhi, to a question on whether he planned to field his sister against PM Modi, told The Hindu newspaper: “I will leave you in suspense. Suspense is not always a bad thing.”
In 2014, Ajay Rai finished a poor third in Varanasi, with only 75,000 votes. The Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal came second with around two lakh votes. None of them came anywhere close to the Prime Minister’s 5.8 lakh.
in 2014 as well. He finished third in the contest, after Modi and Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal.
While campaigning in UP, Priyanka Gandhi has often spoken about what she calls PM Modi’s neglect of Varanasi as he roamed the world. “I was stunned to hear from people in Varanasi that in five years, the PM didn’t get time to go to a single village, visit even one family in his constituency,” she has said in rally after rally, accusing PM Modi of running a government indifferent to the poor.
Varanasi votes on May 19 in the last phase of the national elections. The results of the seven-phase polls will be announced on May 23