Priyanka Gandhi (right), Ajay Rai (left) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi (File Photo)
Putting an end to the speculations of Priyanka Gandhi's candidature from Varanasi, the Congress on Thursday announced Ajay Rai's name as its candidate against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the high-profile constituency in Uttar Pradesh. Rai, who contested against PM Modi from Varanasi in 2014 and lost miserably, has once again been given to challenge Modi in his bastion.
In a notification released by the Congress party on Twitter, the Grand Old Party’s Central Election Committee announced Ajay Rai and Madhusudan Tiwari’s name as its candidates for the ensuing Lok Sabha elections from Varanasi and Gorakhpur, respectively.
Earlier, there were speculations that Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi will make her political debut from Varanasi against Modi. The speculations were fuelled after Priyanka, when asked to contest from Rae Bareli, expressed her wishes to contest from Varanasi.
Later, the Congress president also hinted at something similar when he was asked whether he planned to field his sister against PM Modi. "I will leave you in suspense. Suspense is not always a bad thing," he had said.
In 2014, Rai had finished third with just 75,614 votes after PM Modi (5,81,022 votes) and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal (2,09,238 votes). However, unlike 2014, the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party has also fielded a joint candidate to take on the prime minister.
Meanwhile, the prime minsiter will file his nomination from Varanasi today. Before filing his nomination, Modi is also scheduled to hold a seven-km long road show in the temple town. BJP chief Amit Shah and JDU president Nitish Kumar are likley to accompany Modi during the road show.