Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi on Sunday said she had consulted with party leaders about contesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi, and they had decided to not field her, India Today reported. Gandhi told reporters that she has to focus on the Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, and will be busy with campaigning.
“I consulted all Congress leaders in Uttar Pradesh,” Gandhi said. “Everyone and the party decided not to field me.”
Gandhi added that she has major responsibilities in the state. “Many candidates wanted me to campaign for them and I didn’t want to disappoint them,” News18 quoted her as saying.
The Congress’ Uttar Pradesh (East) general secretary’s comments appeared to contradict her party colleague Sam Pitroda’s statements on the matter. Pitroda, who is the Indian Overseas Congress chief, had on Friday said it was Priyanka Gandhi’s decision to not contest the elections. “She has other responsibilities,” Pitroda had said. She thought that instead of concentrating on one seat, she should focus on the job she has at hand. So, that decision was hers and she decided it.”
The Congress ended speculation on who it was fielding from Varanasi on Thursday with its declaration that Ajay Rai, its candidate from the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, will contest for the seat. Rai is a former Uttar Pradesh MLA who finished third in the 2014 polls against Modi and Aam Aadmi Party candidate Arvind Kejriwal. Modi currently represents Varanasi.
Earlier, Priyanka Gandhi had said that the decision to field her from Varanasi lay with with the party and Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
On Thursday, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had claimed that “the myth of Priyanka Gandhi” stood eroded and that she had chickened out of the contest.