Congress chooses Wayanad for Priyanka Gandhi's poll debut

08:18 AM Jun 18, 2024 | PTI |

New Delhi: Since her entry in active politics in 2019, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was projected as a possible challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi and also as a successor to Congress veteran Sonia Gandhi in the family pocket borough of Rae Bareli parliamentary seat.


However, Congress has decided to field her from Wayanad, the parliamentary seat that her elder brother Rahul won for two consecutive terms.

Rahul won comfortably for the first time from Wayanad in 2019 when he had to bite the dust in the family stronghold of Amethi. In the just concluded Lok Sabha elections, Rahul again contested from Wayanad but moved from Amethi to Rae Bareli. Having won both the seats, Rahul has decided to vacate Wayanad and retain Rae Bareli.

The 52-year-old Priyanka, whose name did the rounds as the Congress candidate for Amethi, Rae Bareli as well as Varanasi parliamentary seats, will finally make her debut in electoral politics from the safe environs of Wayanad in Kerala, a state that Congress has almost swept in 2019 as well as 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

“I’m not nervous at all … I am very happy to be able to represent Wayanad. All I’ll say is that I won’t let them feel his (Rahul’s) absence… I have a good relation with Rae Bareli as I have worked there for 20 years and that relation will never break,” Priyanka said after her candidature was announced on Monday.


Priyanka is married to businessman Robert Vadra, who had repeatedly expressed his interest in contesting from Amethi in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections. The seat was eventually given to family loyalist Kishori Lal Sharma, who defeated BJP leader Smriti Irani.

If Priyanka wins the Lok Sabha bypolls, it would be for the first time that three members of the Gandhi family will be in Parliament. Her mother Sonia Gandhi is a Rajya Sabha member from Rajasthan.

With the Congress putting up a surprisingly good show in the Lok Sabha polls, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has cemented her position as her party’s talisman.

“The Congress for a long time was in search of an effective campaigner and in the 2024 elections Priyanka Gandhi has been a revelation in the way she has responded to Modi. Priyanka Gandhi showed Modi can be countered and played a key role pan-India,” said Rasheed Kidwai, who has authored several books, including “24 Akbar Road: A Short History Of The People Behind The Fall And Rise Of The Congress”.

Political commentator and former Congress leader Sanjay Jha hailed Priyanka Gandhi as an “outstanding campaigner”.

“Her sharp and prompt rebuttals to Mr Modi’s jibes have worked wonders during the campaign. Her presence has been talismanic,” he said.

The INDIA bloc won 233 seats out of 543 in the Lok Sabha elections with Congress emerging as its largest constituent with 99 seats. The election campaign saw a spirited fight back by the Congress with Priyanka playing a pivotal role in countering constant barbs from Modi and other BJP leaders.

Countering Prime Minister Modi over his “gold and mangalsutra” remarks, an emotionally charged Priyanka reminded the voters that her mother Sonia Gandhi sacrificed her mangalsutra for the country.

The speculation was intense as was the spotlight on everything she said. The Congress general secretary did not take the electoral plunge at that time but has opted to contest the bypoll from Wayanad after guiding the party to a stronger position in Parliament when compared with the results of 2014 and 2019.

Discussing her childhood, the pain of her father Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination and her mother’s grief, she steered the Congress campaign, adroitly walking the tightrope between striking a familial chord and discussing national-level issues, and proved to be a strategist, orator and mass mobiliser.

As the curtains came down on Election 2024, analysts totted up the numbers. She took part in 108 public meetings and roadshows. She campaigned in 16 states and one union territory and also addressed two conferences of workers in Amethi and Rae Bareli.

Most of her speeches were akin to a conversation with the crowd, establishing a connect and giving people the impression that this is someone they know, someone sharing her feelings and thoughts with them.

Accountability was a constant refrain in her campaign speeches across the country. Priyanka Gandhi also made it a point to appeal to people to not vote on emotive issues based on religion and caste and to vote for bread and butter issues to improve their daily lives.

Before 2019, Priyanka was seen managing the election campaigns for her mother and brother.

In the recent elections, Rahul secured a massive 64.7 per cent vote share in Wayand, defeating his nearest rival Annie Raja of CPI by a margin of 3.64 lakh votes. The BJP candidate K Surendran finished third with 1.3 lakh votes.


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