15 Feb 2024

Lok Sabha elections-2024: Sonia Gandhi's Shift to Rajya Sabha: Is it a Setback for Congress? Who will take her place in Raebareli?

At a time when only a few weeks are left for the Lok Sabha elections-2024 to be announced, former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has filed her nomination papers from Rajasthan for the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections.

Sonia Gandhi has been representing Rae Bareli in the Lok Sabha since 2004.

This decision has come at a time when former Congress President Rahul Gandhi is on Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra and the timing of this Yatra is being criticized, opinion polls are predicting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's victory in the Lok Sabha elections for the third consecutive time. Congress leaders are leaving the party one after the other and questions are being raised about the coordination on seats between the parties of the opposition India Alliance.

Admission of the looming defeat: BJP

On Sonia Gandhi filing nomination from Rajya Sabha, BJP leader Amit Malviya tweeted, "After Congress's crushing defeat in Amethi, next is Rae Bareli. Sonia Gandhi's decision  to file nomination for Rajya Sabha is an admission of the looming defeat. Despite the Samajwadi Party giving 11 seats to the Congress, the Congress will not be able to win a single seat in Uttar Pradesh."

Whatever the opposition may say, it is true Sonia Gandhi's decision marks the end of an era and some observers feel the decision is a "loss" for the Congress and the opposition. Sonia Gandhi's presence in the Lok Sabha was encouraging not only for the Congress but also for the opposition. Her presence in the Lok Sabha provided encouragement and a voice for the opposition. This decision will take her away from direct electoral politics at a time when Congress is on the decline.

For Congress, Rae Bareli was the only seat that the party was getting. Even if she had won from there, it would not have helped Congress much. Her victory in the last 2-3 elections did not help the Congress much on the whole.

Sonia became MP from Amethi for first time in 1999

Sonia Gandhi became MP from Amethi for the first time in 1999. This is the same seat from where her husband Rajiv Gandhi once contested elections. In the year 2004, she moved to Raebareli and Rahul Gandhi contested the elections from Amethi seat.

Sonia will be the second member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to reach Parliament through Rajya Sabha.

Her mother-in-law and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1964 to 1967. Later she contested elections from Raebareli.

If we take today's senior Congress leaders, party president and Rajya Sabha MP Mallikarjun Kharge is from Karnataka, while Rahul Gandhi is an MP from Wayanad, Kerala.

Sonia has reach among opposition leaders

It was Sonia Gandhi who extended her hand towards the opposition leaders and brought them along. Rahul Gandhi does not have that reach. Like Sonia Gandhi, he has not been able to bring regional leaders under one banner.

Sonia Gandhi also faced problems but her popularity among the opposition leaders was much more than that of Rahul Gandhi. It was Sonia Gandhi who ran the UPA governments. 

 Who will contest from Raebareli?

At 77 years old and with health concerns, Sonia's decision to step back from direct elections is strategic. Winning Raebareli is not easy and for this she may have to put in a lot of effort in the campaign, hence this work has been left to a young person.

There is a BJP government in Uttar Pradesh under the leadership of Yogi Adityanath.

If media speculations are to be believed, in place of Sonia Gandhi, her daughter and Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra may be the Congress candidate from Raebareli, although the party has not said anything about it yet.

In 1999, when Sonia Gandhi contested elections from Amethi for the first time, it was Priyanka who handled all the election work. So there is a possibility that we can see the beginning of Priyanka Gandhi in electoral politics. She has a connect with the common people, her way of talking to people is tremendous and she is very popular in that area. She has campaigned extensively for her brother and mother in many elections.

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