Rahul Gandhi to retain family bastion as Congress seeks to build after polls

By Thomson Reuters Jun 17, 2024 | 11:08 AM

By Sakshi Dayal

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi has chosen to represent his family bastion of Raebareli in parliament as his Congress Party seeks to build on the stronger than expected showing of opposition groups in the national election.

India allows people to stand in multiple constituencies but they can only represent one in parliament and which seat Gandhi would choose to retain has been the subject of keen interest as commentators examine the election fallout.

The political scion of a dynasty that has given India three prime ministers, Gandhi contested Raebareli and his previous constituency of Wayanad, in Kerela, in the recently concluded polls and won both.

His sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will contest the election that will be held in Wayanad to fill the vacant seat, the party said.

Vadra has not contested elections herself before but has been a formidable campaigner for her brother, mother, and other party members over the years. She said she would try to be a “good representative”.

Located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, which sends the largest number of lawmakers to the lower house of parliament, Raebareli has been won by Congress candidates in 17 of the 20 elections held there.

Gandhi’s mother Sonia won the constituency during the previous elections in 2019 but is now a member of the upper house of parliament.

“Rahul Gandhi will retain his Raebareli seat because Raebareli has been close to him from before, that (area) has great attachment to the family, they have been fighting (in elections) from there for generations,” Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge told reporters on Monday evening.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi formed a government last week but, unlike his earlier two terms, had to depend on his allies – some of who are known to be fickle – to get past the halfway mark of 272 in the 543 member house.

Gandhi was among the key leaders in an opposition alliance of over two-dozen parties which won more than 230 seats, trimming Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party’s share by over 60 seats.

(Reporting by Sakshi Dayal; Editing by Alison Williams)