The Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP) may have coined ‘UP ko ye saath pasand hai’ slogan to take their alliance to grassroots in the state but they appear to be at daggers drawn in Rae Bareli and Amethi--bastions of Nehru-Gandhi family.
Rae Bareli is Lok Sabha seat of Congress president Sonia Gandhi whereas party vice president Rahul Gandhi represents Amethi in the lower house of parliament.
The Congress fired first salvo targeting UP minister and SP candidate from Amethi, Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, on Thursday. Congress’s MP and party’s campaign committee chairman Sanjay Sinh accused Prajapati of indulging in ‘corruption’ as his wife Rani Amita Singh filed her papers from Amethi assembly seat against Prajapati.
Amita Singh’s nomination against Prajapati came a day after AICC general secretary and UP incharge Ghulam Nabi Azad’s assertions that both the parties would soon work a way out on the seats where their candidates were face to face.
On Thursday, Rahul went to Koil (Aligarh) to campaign for Congress candidate Vivek Bansal (from where SP has also fielded its candidate) giving indications that both the parties would have ‘friendly contests’ on a number of seats across UP.
“Yes, the Congress and the SP have an alliance. But the Congress had made it clear that the party will contest all the 10 assembly seats of Rae Bareli and Amethi,” said Amita Singh over the phone.
Asked about the ‘Rani versus Rani’ contest in Amethi with Sanjay Sinh’s estranged wife Rani Garima Singh entering the fray as a BJP candidate, Amita Singh said: “The SP, the BSP and the BJP candidates are fighting the election on ideology of their respective parties. I am fighting their ideology. I have nurtured the constituency for the past 20 years. I am sure the people will turn to the Congress.”
The candidates of the Congress and the SP are also face to face on Gauriganj assembly seat of Amethi Lok Sabha constituency. In Rae Bareli, the candidates of two partners remained face to face on Unchahar and Sareni seats as the deadline for withdrawals for fourth phase of poll ended on Thursday. Rae Bareli will go to poll in the fourth phase whereas voting will take place in Amethi in the fifth phase. “We are having friendly contests on these seats,” said a senior Congress leader.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who steers the party’s campaign in Rae Bareli and Amethi, is expected to reach there in next few days. There are indications that she may visit Rae Bareli on February 14, 15 and 16. “We are holding meetings with party workers and final touches are being given to Priyankaji’s programme,” said the party leader, adding “Rahul Gandhi may address a public meeting in Rae Bareli on February 18.”