Rahul Gandhi retains Raebareli, Priyanka Gandhi to contest Wayanad bypoll

Rahul won both Wayanad and Raebareli and must vacate one of the seats within 14 days of the Lok Sabha results, declared on 4 June

Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra cast their votes in New Delhi on 25 May (photo: PTI)
Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra cast their votes in New Delhi on 25 May (photo: PTI)


Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will retain the Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh and vacate his Wayanad seat in Kerala, from where his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will make her electoral debut.

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge announced the decision on Monday after the party's top brass held discussions on the issue at his residence here. Besides, Kharge and Rahul, Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi and party general-secretaries K.C. Venugopal and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were present at the meeting.

If elected, this will be the first time Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will enter Parliament as an MP. This will also be the first time that all three Gandhi family members — Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka — will be in Parliament together.

Rahul Gandhi has to vacate one of the seats he won within 14 days of the Lok Sabha results, which were declared on 4 June. "Rahul Gandhi won from two Lok Sabha seats but as per the law, he has to vacate one seat. Rahul Gandhi will retain Rae Bareli and we have decided that Priyanka ji will fight from Wayanad," Kharge told reporters after the meeting.

"We thank her for keeping our word and having agreed to contest from Wayanad," he said while lauding Priyanka Gandhi's efforts in helping the party win a number of seats in Uttar Pradesh, including in Rae Bareli. Priyanka was the party's star campaigner during Lok Sabha polls.

Asked whether Rahul has decided to take the Leader of Opposition position in Lok Sabha, after the Congress Working Committee urged him to do so in a unanimous resolution, Kharge said a decision will be taken soon.

"But, dhamki to dee hai as president of the party (Kharge has issued a threat as party president)," Rahul said in a lighter vein when asked if he has agreed to the CWC decision to take up the LoP position.

Thanking the people of Wayanad for re-electing him, Rahul said he would keep visiting the constituency and fulfil all the promises he has made to the people. He said both Rae Bareli and Wayanad "will get two MPs", while noting that his family has personal ties with the people of Rae Bareli and Wayanad. "Dono ko do sansad mil rahe hain (both will get two MPs each)," he said.

While Sonia Gandhi has now become a member of the Rajya Sabha, from Rajasthan, Rahul will represent Rae Bareli and Priyanka, if elected in the bye-elections, will represent Wayanad. Sonia Gandhi held the Rae Bareli seat for over two decades and Rahul earlier held the Amethi seat, which he lost to Smriti Irani in 2019 and shifted to Wayanad.

Rahul Gandhi said it was a difficult decision for him as he has an emotional relationship with both Rae Bareli and Wayanad. "The last five years as an MP of Wayanad have been a fantastic and enjoyable experience. The people of Wayanad gave me support and gave me energy to fight at a very difficult time. I will never forget that...," he said.

"All the people of Wayanad gave me a lot of love and I thank them from my heart. I will visit Wayanad and will fulfil our promises made," he said, adding that it was a difficult decision for him to make. "I have a long relationship with Rae Bareli and I am very happy that I will be representing it. This was not an easy decision, because affection is with both (Wayanad and Rae Bareli)."

Priyanka said she would not let the people of Wayanad feel Rahul's absence. "I am very happy to be able to represent Wayanad. All I'll say is that I won't let them feel his absence. As he said, he will come many times with me. But I will work as hard and I will try my best to make everybody happy and be a good representative. I have a good relationship with Rae Bareli as I have worked there for 20 years and that will never break," Priyanka said in her brief address.

Asked if she was nervous as she would be making her electoral debut in Wayanad, she said, "Not at all, I'm not nervous at all."

Rahul secured a massive 64.7 per cent vote share in Wayanad, 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.

"I want everyone to know that Priyanka is going to fight from Wayanad and the commitments that I have made, we will stand by them.

"She is going to be a very good representative for the people of Wayanad. You are now going to have two members of Parliament and I love the people and I will keep visiting," he told the people on announcing his decision to quit the seat.

Rahul said he is going to be available to the people of Wayanad.

"I am confident that she is going to win the election. People of Wayanad can think about it like this - they are now going to have two members of Parliament - one is my sister and one is me. My doors are always open for you throughout the rest of my life. I love every single person in Wayanad," he also said.

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