Congress president Sonia Gandhi is likely to start campaigning in her Lok Sabha constituency of Rae Bareli next week even as the canvassing for the country’s keenly-watched assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh peaked ahead of the first phase of polling on Saturday.
Congress sources also indicated that her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will soon start canvassing for votes in the family pocket borough of Amethi, represented by her brother and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi in the Lok Sabha, and Rae Bareli.
Sonia, 70, has so far stayed away from campaigning in the five poll-bound states, the first time that she has chosen to do so after joining active politics in 1998. She skipped campaigning in Punjab and Goa, which went to polls on February 4, and is unlikely to canvass in the hill state of Uttarakhand, where polling will be held on February 15.
But on Thursday, the Congress president told reporters in the Parliament House Complex that she will be campaigning in her Lok Sabha constituency.
In the past few months, she has skipped the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on November 7 when as many as 32 members urged Rahul to assume the top party post.
She also stayed away from a Congress convention on demonetisation at Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium on January 11, giving 46-year-old Rahul the opportunity to chair the big party event.
The Congress has formed an alliance with the ruling Samajwadi Party to contest the assembly elections together in Uttar Pradesh. The Congress would contest 105 seats while the SP would fight in 298 seats in the state.
They reached the deal after several rounds of discussion. While the Congress wanted to take smaller allies like the RLD on board, the SP wanted alliance only with the Congress.
Sonia had to intervene and speak to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on the phone as talks between the Congress and the SP seemed to fall out over seat-sharing. While the SP had offered 99 seats, the Congress continued to bargain for more.