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‘Rahul Gandhi is running away from Amethi, not me’: Smriti Irani on rumours BJP might field her from Wayanad

This last-minute face-saving exercise by the Congress perhaps tells a decisive tale about which way the winds may be blowing. 

With the 2019 Lok Sabha election drawing closer, BJP and Congress have both released their candidate lists for most of the constituencies. However, the Amethi battle seems to be the epicentre of Congress’ meltdown. After BJP announced that Union Minister Smriti Irani would be contesting from Amethi, considered to be a Gandhi bastion, sensing imminent Congress has been desperately scouting for a safe seat to ensure Rahul Gandhi’s victory.

Several Congress units have written to Rahul Gandhi urging him to fight from Wayanad, Kerala as well as Amethi. This seems to be a quest to ensure that Rahul Gandhi scores a victory from at least one seat since the chances of him losing to Smriti Irani from Amethi are high.

Now, rumours have surfaced that BJP might be fielding Smriti Irani from the Wayanad constituency too, to counter Rahul Gandhi.

Matrubhumi.com reported that senior BJP leaders may have hinted that Smriti Irani will be fielded from Wayanad to counter Rahul Gandhi who is now looking for a safe seat.

However, OpIndia.com reached out to the Union Minister who has categorically denied these rumours.

“Rahul Gandhi is running away from Amethi, not me. I am staying right here and fighting for the people. This news is just a rumour and completely untrue”, said Smriti Irani to OpIndia.com.

Smriti Irani further added, “It is understandable that Congress rumour mills are at work, after all, who would not be embarrassed to have a leader like Rahul Gandhi”.

Recently, a desperate attempt to find a safe seat for Rahul Gandhi by the Congress party has come to the fore. We have reported how Karnataka and Tamil Nadu state units have written to Rahul Gandhi urging him to contest from Wayanad, Kerala. Today, Amethi state unit too wrote to Rahul Gandhi urging him to fight both from Amethi and Wayanad saying that he is the future prime minister and like Indira Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, he should fight both from North India and South India. Congress’ Randeep Surjewala has also stated that Wayanad is being ‘positively considered’.

Apart from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Amethi, the All India Kisan Congress too had urged Rahul Gandhi to contest from Wayanad along with Amethi.

The National Students’ Union of India too had urged Rahul Gandhi to contest both from Amethi and Wayanad. Similar letters have been written to Rahul Gandhi by Zilla Congress Committees.

In 2014, Smriti Irani managed to arrest Rahul Gandhi’s landslide victory from stronghold Amethi to a considerably small lead and since then, Smriti Irani has been working tirelessly in the constituency. In fact, a comparison of the work done by Smriti Irani in Amethi for the past 4 years compared to what Rahul Gandhi has done in the past 10 years makes it amply clear that Smriti Irani would have a considerable lead over Rahul Gandhi in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Congress, sensing the fact that it would not be a cakewalk to defeat Smriti Irani in Amethi and that the constituency can no longer be called an exclusive bastion of the Gandhis is frantically trying to search for a seat that might deliver an assured victory to Rahul Gandhi. This last-minute face-saving exercise by the Congress perhaps tells a decisive tale about which way the winds may be blowing.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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