Indian Overseas Congress chief Sam Pitroda on Friday said it was Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi’s decision to not contest the Lok Sabha election from Varanasi, reported ANI. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate from the constituency.

After days of speculation that Gandhi may contest against Modi, the Congress on Thursday announced that former Uttar Pradesh MLA Ajay Rai would be its candidate from the seat. Rai was the party’s candidate in Varanasi in 2014 as well, when he finished third after Modi and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal, who is now the chief minister of Delhi.

“It [not contesting from Varanasi] was Priyanka ji’s decision, she has other responsibilities,” Pitroda told reporters at a press conference. “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.”

Earlier, Priyanka Gandhi had said that the decision to field her from Varanasi lay with with the party and Congress President Rahul Gandhi. Priyanka Gandhi is the Congress’ general secretary in Uttar Pradesh East, where Varanasi is located.


On Thursday, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the myth of Priyanka Gandhi stood eroded and claimed she had chickened out of the contest.

“The build-up of the last two weeks had been that Priyanka would be fielded against the prime minister,” Jaitley wrote in a Facebook post. “She rejoiced in giving daily bytes to the media that she was ready to take on the prime minister. Her brother [Congress President Rahul Gandhi] claimed that the party was building up the suspense for an eventual thriller.”