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Priyanka Gandhi decided not to contest Varanasi election, says Sam Pitroda

Political circles had been agog with speculation for weeks that the recently-appointed Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi would contest from Varanasi.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2019 19:56 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Priyanka Gandhi,Sam Pitroda,Congress varanasi
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra being felicitated with garland during public meeting in Ghursarai on Friday(ANI)

The decision to not contest against PM Modi in Varanasi was taken by Priyanka Gandhi herself, Congress leader Sam Pitroda said on Friday, a day after the party decided to repeat its 2014 candidate from the constituency ending weeks of speculation.

“It (not contesting from Varanasi) was Priyanka ji’s decision, she has other responsibilities. She thought rather than concentrating on one seat she should focus on the job she has at hand. So, that decision was her and she decided it,” the chief of the Indian Overseas Congress said, according to news agency ANI.

Political circles had been agog with speculation for weeks that the recently appointed Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi would contest from Varanasi.

Watch: Why Congress opted out of a Priyanka vs PM Modi fight in Varanasi I Opinion

Congress workers had urged the leadership to field Priyanka Gandhi — the party in charge for eastern Uttar Pradesh — from either Varanasi or Allahabad.

However, she left it to her brother and party chief Rahul Gandhi to take the call. “You will come to know when the party takes a decision. I have said time and again, I will do whatever the party tells me to do,” Priyanka Gandhi had said when asked about her candidature.

Also read: No Priyanka Gandhi from Varanasi seat ‘wise decision of Congress’, say locals

On Thursday, the day PM Modi held a mega roadshow in the constituency, the Congress decided to field Ajay Rai, who finished third with just 7% votes behind PM Modi and AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal.

Pitroda earlier courted controversy with his remark on India’s airstrike on Jaish camp in Pakistan’s Balakot. Questioning the rationale for the February 26 air strikes deep inside Pakistani territory 12 days after the February 14 Pulwama suicide attack, Pitroda said one cannot “jump on an entire nation” (Pakistan) just because some people from there “came here and attacked”. In an apparent reference to the Pulwama attack, Pitroda, who heads the Indian Overseas Congress, said attacks happen all the time.

Referring to the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power, he said the then government could have sent its planes but that was “not the right approach”. He sought details from the Modi government on Balakot, citing foreign media reports that questioned claims on the number of terrorists being killed in the air strikes.

In response, Modi said: “The most trusted advisor and guide of the Congress President has kickstarted the Pakistan National Day celebrations on behalf of the Congress, ironically by demeaning India’s armed forces. Shame!”

Watch: Why didn’t Priyanka challenge PM from Varanasi? Cong’s Sam Pitroda reveals

First Published: Apr 26, 2019 14:59 IST