Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday conceded defeat from his party stronghold Amethi in Uttar Pradesh to Bharatiya Janata Party leader Smriti Irani. However, the Election Commission is yet to announce the final result.

“I respect the decision and congratulate Smriti Irani ji,” said Gandhi while addressing the media. Before Thursday, Amethi had only elected non-Congress MPs twice.

It was a direct contest between Gandhi and Irani in Amethi this time. Irani led an aggressive campaign against Gandhi, constantly accusing him of ignoring the constituency. Gandhi did not visit Amethi even on the day of polling on May 6, giving Irani the opportunity to repeat that the “missing MP” had betrayed residents.

Amethi has been a Congress party stronghold since its formation as a Lok Sabha constituency in 1967 election. This is from where Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi fought their first Lok Sabha battles.

Rahul Gandhi won the seat easily in 2004 and 2009. In 2014, Gandhi received stiff competition from Irani and managed to defeat her by over 1 lakh votes, but his vote share was dented to as much as 46.71%. This is reportedly the lowest vote share by which a Congress candidate from the Gandhi family has won Amethi.

Read more: Key fights: In Amethi, Smriti Irani’s increasing visibility is a challenge for Rahul Gandhi