25 Apr 2019: No Priyanka v/s Modi in Varanasi, Congress fields Ajay Rai
Ending weeks of speculations, Congress didn't field Priyanka Gandhi Vadra from Varanasi and gave a ticket to Ajay Rai instead.
Political corridors have been abuzz with rumors that Priyanka would contest from the holy city against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is seeking re-election.
Priyanka had said she is ready to contest polls if her brother Rahul Gandhi wants her to.
Looking back: Priyanka's message to cadres started the speculations
It was Priyanka's statement which kicked off reports about her possible candidature. When she was campaigning for her mother Sonia Gandhi in Raebareli, cadres suggested that Priyanka should contest polls from there. She then half-wittingly, replied, "Why not Varanasi?"
Her subsequent statements showed Priyanka wasn't completely averse to the idea and would want to make her electoral debut from an important constituency.
Details: Earlier, Rahul had said suspense isn't a bad thing
The possibility of a giant clash in Varanasi piqued interests. However, Priyanka kept reiterating that the final decision would be taken by brother Rahul.
"I will leave you in suspense. Suspense is not always a bad thing," Rahul had said in an interview last week.
Reports claimed Congress was divided over Priyanka's candidature and Sonia didn't like the idea at all.
Big day: Congress' mega announcement clashed with PM Modi's big day
Congress' mega announcement, which ended in a dud, came on the day when PM Modi is headed to Varanasi. He will file his nomination on Friday but before that, he will hold a mega roadshow.
The show of strength is likely to begin after 2 PM. The 6 km-long roadshow will start at BHU and end at Dashashwamedh Ghat.
He will also perform puja.
Decision: Congress chose Rai, who was badly defeated in 2014
While Varanasi Lok Sabha seat is revered, Congress' decision qualifies as a lazy one. To recall, Rai had contested against PM Modi in 2014 as well.
Surprisingly, he had received fewer votes than Arvind Kejriwal, the AAP chief who had just gained national prominence at the time.
Meanwhile, SP-BSP-RLD's candidate for Varanasi is Shalini Yadav, daughter-in-law of a former Congress lawmaker.