It’s Congress turncoat Dinesh Singh vs Sonia in Rae Bareli
Dinesh Pratap Singh, a Congress loyalist-turned-defector, who is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate against United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, has made the contest interesting in RaeBareli, considered to be a traditional bastion of the Nehru-Gandhi family in Uttar Pradesh.
So, when Congress general secretary (east UP) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra campaigned for her mother Sonia Gandhi in the constituency, she did not forget to mention the BJP candidate’s Congress background and her family’s traditional connect with the people.
“The BJP candidate is the one who used to call her sister, fell in her feet and promised not to ever her leave. If a person cannot be loyal to his leader or party how can he or she be loyal to the people. Rae Bareli has been the ‘karm bhoomi’ of Indira (Gandhi) ji and Sonia ji is working here now. So, this is a holy land for us,” she tells people at all her public meetings.
Situated 80 kms south-east of Lucknow, Rae Bareli is considered an important constituency of the state’s Awadh region for sending late Indira Gandhi to parliament. Though Rae Bareli seat is considered a Congress bastion, former Prime Minister late Indira Gandhi had to taste defeat from here in 1977.
Even after Indira’s death in 1984, Rae Bareli continued to elect Congress candidates. However, the BJP was able to get its candidate elected from here in 1996 and 1998.
Since then, the BJP has been making consistent efforts to get a strong candidate to make inroads into Rae Bareli. In 1999, when Sonia Gandhi contested her first Lok Sabha election from Amethi, the BJP fielded Arun Nehru from RaeBareli.
Nehru, however, lost to Congress’s Captain Satish Sharma and later Sonia herself shifted to the constituency.
As the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have not fielded a candidate against Sonia, a direct fight is expected between her and BJP’s Dinesh Pratap Singh.
BJP president Amit Shah had inducted him into the BJP at a public rally in RaeBareli about a year ago. As a Congress leader and MLC, Singh commanded considerable political influence in the area.
Out of five assembly seats of Rae Bareli, the Congress had won two in 2017 assembly elections.
The SP bagged one seat while two went to the BJP. Singh’s brother Rakesh Singh was elected on a Congress ticket from Harchandpur assembly constituency. Singh’s another brother Awadhesh Singh is the district panchayat chairman and voting on a Congress sponsored no-confidence motion against him is scheduled later this month.
The Congress has accused the district administration of working under the BJP government’s pressure by deferring voting on the no-confidence motion. While Singh’s brother is working for the BJP, SP MLA and former minister Manoj Pandey is campaigning for Sonia.
As an MP, Sonia has to her credit bringing Rail Coach Factory, National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) and the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to her constituency.