Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has finally broken her silence on the high-voltage Varanasi poll battle. In a brief interaction with media, Priyanka said that she was not disappointed with party’s decision. She said that if she was given the Varanasi poll ticket, it would have restrained her to the temple city only. But she wanted to focus on the country. “I have so much work in eastern Uttar Pradesh. I am not disappointed. I have always said that I will go by whatever decision the party leadership takes.”
She also claimed that the BJP will not be able to repeat its 2014 performance. “My strategy is very clear. Congress will win on the seats where our candidates are strong. Where our candidates are slightly lightweight, they will cut into BJP’s vote share.”
Earlier, senior party leader Sam Pitroda had claimed that it was Priyanka’s decision to not contest from Varanasi. “It (not contesting from Varanasi) was Priyanka ji's decision, she has other responsibilities. She thought rather than concentrating on one seat she should focus on the job she has at hand. So, that decision was her and she decided it,” Pitroda was quoted as saying by news agency ANI on April 26.
Speculation on Priyanka Gandhi making her electoral debut from Varanasi had been rife for the past few weeks and 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."
Priyanka Gandhi herself had added to the buzz by saying that she would abide by her party's decision on the matter. But the Congress ended the speculation by fielding Ajay Rai from Varanasi. Meanwhile, the SP-BSP grand alliance has declared Shalini Yadav, who joined the Samajwadi Party on Monday evening, as their candidate from Varanasi.
After years of working in Congress backrooms, Priyanka Gandhi joined full-time politics in February as in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, hoping to change the party's fortunes in the ongoing Lok Sabha election.
Varanasi constituency will go to the polls in the last phase on May 19. Prime Minister Modi has filed his nomination papers for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat today. BJP chief Amit Shah along with senior BJP and NDA leaders, including JD (U) president Nitish Kumar, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and other were present with him.
In 2014, Modi won the seat by a margin of over three lakh votes against Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal. While Modi got over 5,81,000 votes, Rai managed about 75,000 votes.