A little over a week after her boat yatra across four districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh that ended at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is launching another campaign. This time, she would be starting from her brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi's Lok Sabha seat, Amethi. Her destination is Ayodhya, which has been one of the hot button issues ahead of the election.
In a schedule sent out to journalists, the Congress said Priyanka Gandhi will start her three-day campaign at Amethi tomorrow and spend Thursday at her mother's Lok Sabha constituency Rae Bareli. On Friday, she would travel to Ayodhya, where she would visit the famous Hanuman Gadhi temple and may even hold a road show.
In the two family strongholds, Priyanka Gandhi would address workers' meetings and an open house at Rae Bareli.
Her visit to Amethi - where Rahul Gandhi has been challenged by the BJP's Union minister Smriti Irani -- will be of particular interest. Ms Irani had pitted herself against Rahul Gandhi for the first time in 2009, and then in 2014. Though she lost, Mr Gandhi's victory margin had shrunk considerably in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections -- from some 3.70 lakh votes it was down to 1.07 lakh.
The Congress's vote share was reduced to 46 per cent in 2014 against its earlier shares of 71 per cent in 2009 and 66 per cent in the 2004 elections.
The BJP, whose vote share in Amethi remained in the single digits in 2004, had got 37 per cent of the votes cast in 2014.
Amethi has been a stronghold of the Congress. The party had held the seat for three deccades except for one term in 1998, when the BJP's Sanjay Singh defeated Congress's Satish Sharma by a margin of 23,270 votes.
The party regained the seat in 1999, when Sonia Gandhi was elected from there.
In the past, Amethi constituency has been represented by Congress heavyweights like Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.
The seat, however, has become worrisome for the Congress after the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in 2017, when the BJP managed to win four of the five Assembly seats under the Lok Sabha constituency.
Amid calls for Rahul Gandhi to contest from a seat in south India, sources said the party has decided in the affirmative. Smriti Irani, who had been visting Amethi despite her defeat, has said the calls were being "staged" as people in Mr Gandhi's constituency have rejected him.
"Amethi drove him away. Calls requesting him to contest from other seats are being staged as people have rejected him," the BJP leader tweeted in Hindi using hashtag #BhaagRahulBhaag.
The tweet drew a sharp response from the Congress, who reminded Ms Irani how she managed to become a Member of Parliament from Rajya Sabha despite losing the Lok Sabha elections from Chandni Chowk and Amethi.
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