‘The BJP wants to ensure that Rae Bareli, which is long held by Congress, does not remain with it.’
NEW DELHI: Speculation is rife over the possibility of Sonia Gandhi retiring from electoral politics. Sources in the BJP say that the saffron party will field BJP MLA from Rae Bareli Aditi Singh as a contestant against any Congress candidate, on the Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituency of Uttar Pradesh in the upcoming general elections. The seat is a bastion of the Indian National Congress, and the only Lok Sabha seat in UP, currently represented by Sonia Gandhi herself.
Sonia Gandhi was heard announcing her retirement plan during her speech on the second day of the Congress’ three-day 85th plenary session in Chhattisgarh’s capital Raipur. It has sparked speculation that she may not contest Lok Sabha elections in 2024. There is also an understanding that if the Gandhis want to keep the constituency with their family, then Priyanka Gandhi Vadra could contest from the seat.
A political analyst in UP said, “This time Rahul Gandhi may again contest from Amethi and there is high possibility that he will win the seat. On the other hand, if Priyanka Gandhi Vadra contests from Rae Bareli, a lot of groundwork will be needed from the party to win the seat.”
Moreover, as it is the only seat held by Congress in Uttar Pradesh, by fielding Singh, BJP leaders say that it wants to set free Congress from the state as well as from its stronghold (Rae Bareli) and send the message across that the grand old party is no more in the state in terms of Lok Sabha representation. A party insider said, “The BJP wants to ensure that Rae Bareli, which is long held by the grand old party, does not remain with it.”
According to the internal assessment of the BJP, the most powerful candidate in their arsenal for the Lok Sabha segment of Rae Bareli has turned out to be Aditi Singh. BJP leaders believe that her existence in the region has become strong and could defeat any Congress candidate contesting against her.
Singh is currently a BJP MLA from the Assembly constituency of Rae Bareli. She won the seat back-to-back in 2017 and 2022. She was also one of the youngest members of Uttar Pradesh’s 17th Vidhan Sabha (2017-2022). In 2017, she had contested the seat on a Congress ticket. And comfortably won by defeating Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mhd. Shahbaz Khan by a huge margin of 89,163 votes.
However, before the 2022 elections she joined the saffron party and again contested from the same constituency on a BJP ticket, winning the seat again by defeating R.P. Yadav of the Samajwadi Party with a margin of 7,175 votes. The Rae Bareli Assembly constituency falls under the Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituency.
Going by current trends, a political analyst working on the ground in Uttar Pradesh said that if the Congress contests today, it may not be able to win the Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat easily. The Congress is losing its grip over Rae Bareli. To keep it as its stronghold, the party needs to work hard to retain the seat.
The political analyst further added, “There is no permanent seat for any party which has a holy stamp that it will remain with a particular party for eternity. Amethi was also Congress party’s stronghold, but what happened to it, they lost it eventually.”