Big surprise in Congress list for UP as Priyanka Gandhi’s name not in the first list

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Updated: Mar 09, 2019 6:22 AM

Lok Sabha elections 2019: The Congress released its first list of candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections on Thursday, fielding UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi from Raebareli and party president Rahul Gandhi from Amethi.

After Priyanka Gandhi’s high voltage political debut through a mega road show from Lucknow last month, it was widely rumoured that she could be fielded from her mother’s Rae Bareli seat. (Reuters)

Congress first list for Lok Sabha polls: In a decision that surprised many political pundits, the first Congress list for Uttar Pradesh does not include Gandhi family scion Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s name among the 11 candidates. Though her mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi will contest the Lok Sabha election from her traditional Rae Bareli seat and her elder brother and Congress President Rahul Gandhi will contest from Amethi Lok Sabha seat.

The first list of 15 names, 11 for Uttar Pradesh and 4 for Gujarat was approved in a party meeting chaired by her elder brother and the party president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on late Thursday evening.

After Priyanka Gandhi’s high voltage political debut through a mega road show from the state capital Lucknow last month, it was widely rumoured that she could be fielded from her mother’s Rae Bareli seat. In recent years, particularly after her treatment abroad in 2011, Sonia Gandhi had somewhat distanced herself from active politics, giving greater role and visibility to her son and political successor Rahul Gandhi whom she formally made the party president in 2017.

Read | Lok Sabha elections 2019: Congress first list out; Sonia Gandhi to contest from Raebareli, Rahul Gandhi from Amethi

However, Gandhi family’s decision to formally launch Priyanka Gandhi into electoral politics to take on the Modi-Amit Shah led BJP fuelled rumours that the party may rely on Priyanka Gandhi’s appeal among youth and women to improve its chances.

It was also widely speculated that as a general secretary of the party and in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wanted to revive the talks with Akhilesh Yadav led Samajwadi Party for a pre-poll alliance which had already entered into an alliance with Mayawati led BSP.

It appears that Congress’s decision not to field Priyanka in the electoral contest is aimed at avoiding the emergence of two power centres within the party.

Sonia Gandhi had already made it clear in 2004 that who will be her political successor when she gave Lok Sabha ticket to son Rahul Gandhi but not to daughter Priyanka Gandhi. In the next 10 years, as a Congress general secretary, Rahul Gandhi got the opportunity to work at the grassroot level, appointing people of his choice to key position and consolidating his control in the party.

Also read | Hardik Patel set to join Congress on March 12, likely to contest Lok Sabha election from Jamnagar

Rahul Gandhi’s control of the party was complete when he was appointed Vice President of Congress in 2013 at the Party’s working committee meeting in Jaipur. Though, Sonia Gandhi remained the Party president but her son Rahul Gandhi was de-facto head of India’s grand old party, taking almost all the major decisons.

Sonia Gandhi continued to groom her son Rahul Gandhi as her political heir formally handing him over the reins of the party in December 2017.

The Congress Party’s first list announced on Thursday makes it clear that Priyanka Gandhi will have to wait little longer for her place in the country’s electoral politics.

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