In Picking Rae Bareli, Rahul Gandhi Signals His Fight Is With Modi, Not One of His Nominees

Gujarat News, Gujarati News, Latest Gujarati News, Gujarat Breaking News, Gujarat Samachar.

Latest Gujarati News, Breaking News in Gujarati, Gujarat Samachar, ગુજરાતી સમાચાર, Gujarati News Live, Gujarati News Channel, Gujarati News Today, National Gujarati News, International Gujarati News, Sports Gujarati News, Exclusive Gujarati News, Coronavirus Gujarati News, Entertainment Gujarati News, Business Gujarati News, Technology Gujarati News, Automobile Gujarati News, Elections 2022 Gujarati News, Viral Social News in Gujarati, Indian Politics News in Gujarati, Gujarati News Headlines, World News In Gujarati, Cricket News In Gujarati

In Picking Rae Bareli, Rahul Gandhi Signals His Fight Is With Modi, Not One of His Nominees

| Updated: May 5, 2024 14:11

Reams have been written about the Congress being over in UP. So this decision is as much shrewd calculation and tightening the Congress’s Hindi belt as it is a recognition of what is truly the oldest family seat in the state and the country.

Rahul Gandhi’s decision to pick up the gauntlet in Rae Bareli marks the end of an era and the beginning of another. Of course, it was clear when Sonia Gandhi opted to enter the Rajya Sabha earlier this year that she would not be contesting from here again. She wrote a note to Rae Barelians thanking them for their support to her. But who would be tasked with taking the baton and running with it was still up in the air.

Illustration: Pariplab Chakraborty

Rahul Gandhi is a seasoned politician with a career of 20 years in the Lok Sabha. Fifteen of these have been from Amethi, his late father’s constituency, before he lost the seat in 2019. Given its long association with the Nehru-Gandhis, Rae Bareli too holds special significance for Rahul. In India’s first general election, the seat was won by his grand-father, Feroze Gandhi. Both seats also serve as a political bond between the Congress’s first family and Uttar Pradesh. UP sends the maximum number of MPs to the Lok Sabha. It has also sent the maximum PMs. After all, a proud Gujarati, Narendra Modi also chose Varanasi to stake his claim to the prime ministership.

In 2019, Rahul Gandhi lost Amethi to the BJP’s Smriti Irani but won the Wayanad seat in Kerala. Coming back to UP in 2024 to take the battle deep into what is seen as the most comfortable state for the BJP was essential for him to earn his spurs among critics uncomfortable with him only making his case in a CPI seat in the deep south. Any claims to being serious about taking on the BJP’s might means a battle in UP. Moreover, taking the battle to UP also shifts the nature of the electoral contest, which so far the BJP has been desperate to frame as a ‘done deal’ thanks to the Ayodhya temple. Rahul Gandhi walking into the fray in UP means that battle has been joined.

Then comes the question of which of the two ‘family’ seats he should have chosen. The fact that a chorus of critics is lamenting his not fighting from Amethi this time around is evidence enough of the trap it would have been. Rather than being railroaded into this seat and locked into a battle of false prestige, the Congress has made clear that it is fighting the 2024 election on its own terms. Rahul’s decision to leave Amethi to a local Congress stalwart allows the party to focus on larger issues, notwithstanding the Godi media blitzkrieg.

Never at a loss for insults and spiteful remarks – which she mistakes for grit and assertive politics – Smriti Irani has been battling Rahul Gandhi in her mind for weeks now. Most of her recent public statements have betrayed a certain jumpiness about the Congress leader’s possible arrival in Amethi. The Rahul Gandhi of today, post the Bharat Jodo Yatras, is quite different from his 2019 avatar and the national mood today is not what it was five years ago. It is precisely for these reasons that the BJP was keen to pin the Congress leader down in Amethi.

As is the BJP’s wont, TV cameras, reporters and godi debate had been planned in advance to ensure Gandhi gets caught in a sophomoric framing that made it a ‘Smriti versus Rahul’ fight, diminishing the real battle with Modi that Gandhi is now trying to wage on behalf of both INDIA and India.

Picking an old Congress worker and loyalist, K.L. Sharma, to fight Amethi is most of all, a signal to Irani. It is a strong rebuff to her and her party’s plans of reducing Rahul Gandhi’s campaign – over the month that remains of the general election – to a series of ‘reactions’ to every vituperative soundbite she can dish out on national TV, which the BJP almost fully controls now.

Fighting Amethi would have invariably meant Rahul Gandhi’s 2019 defeat repeatedly being dredged up, making it a tough prestige battle. It would have also detracted from the time available for other campaigning nationally when, without the resources (and holograms) that the BJP has, the opposition has personal campaigning as it’s one calling card.

Never mind the BJP hosting a record number of dynasts – its own, stolen and borrowed from other parties – but ‘dynasty’ is a charge the BJP reserves for the opposition, particularly the Gandhis. Had Rahul Gandhi returned to Amethi, and Rae Bareli been given to another family member (presumably his sister, general secretary, Priyanka Gandhi) there would be very little separating the Congress from other family-parties with multiple family members in important positions. The same persons angry at not seeing a ‘Smriti versus Rahul’ framing would have carped about ‘dynasty’ then.

There was speculation that Mallikarjun Kharge could be fielded as a candidate from Rae Bareli. The benefits from that, no doubt would have been immense. Political patrimony being handed to a self-made Dalit Congress president from south India would have had deep political significance. But Rahul Gandhi himself entering the fray from here signals that the Congress is not re-fighting the 2019 election but taking the 2024 one head on, where it is ready to stay pitched in grounds that have been called inherently hostile to it.

Reams have been written about the Congress being over in UP.  So this decision is as much shrewd calculation and tightening the Congress’s Hindi belt as it is a recognition of what is truly the oldest family seat in the state and the country. Rae Bareli ensured that UP returned at least one Congress MP in even as hostile a time as 2019. Rahul’s grandfather, Feroze Gandhi held this seat in 1952, then 1957 again before his death a year later. After him Indira Gandhi contested from here, losing only once, dramatically to Raj Narain in 1977. She, like Rahul Gandhi, sought southern seats when things soured for the Congress, but returned. Sonia Gandhi also quit Bellary and held on to Rae Bareli in UP as home when she wanted to assert that she and her party were ready for the long haul and very much in the fight for India’s soul.

This article was originally published on The Wire on May 5, 2024.

Also Read: Lions In Gir Region May Top 800 In 2025 Census, Believe Forest Officials

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *