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Priyanka may replace Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli in 2014 polls : report

New Delhi, Aug 12: The weekly newspaper Sunday Guardian, edited by M J Akbar, has reported that Priyanka Vadra may replace Congress president Sonia Gandhi as the party candidate from Rae Bareli in the 2004
PTI September 23, 2012 11:48 IST
New Delhi, Aug 12: The weekly newspaper Sunday Guardian, edited by M J Akbar, has reported that Priyanka Vadra may replace Congress president Sonia Gandhi as the party candidate from Rae Bareli in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.

The report said,  Sonia Gandhi is likely to withdraw from the political fray during the 2014 general elections because of her sustained ill-health.

As part of this exercise, Priyanka Vadra has already started visiting her mother's constituency more regularly in order to prepare for the 2014 polls.

"She (Priyanka) is holding regular meetings with people from her mother's constituency. The Congress chief has cut down on public meetings and is likely to further truncate her outings," said a party source from UP.

No formal decision has been announced, but the pattern tells its own story, says the report.

Rahul Gandhi, in the meanwhile, seems to have withdrawn from UP after the humiliating defeat in the last Assembly elections, in which the Congress lost all Assembly seats in Rae Bareli and three out of five in Amethi, from where  he is  MP.

While Rahul now takes no visible interest in the party affairs of the state, his mother Sonia Gandhi is either too disinterested in UP or is simply too preoccupied with UPA affairs, the report said.

The report says, Sonia Gandhi has told her confidants that she will not contest the next Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress, in UP, has, therefore, been reduced to toeing the lines laid down by the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, both of which are crucial for UPA's survival till the next elections.

"Rahulji has not uttered a word in recent months, but senior party managers have told us not to issue any statements against the SP or the BSP.

"We are, therefore, biding time in the party office, gossiping or playing cards on the computer while UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi spends most of her time in Uttarakhand where her brother Vijay Bahuguna is Chief Minister," said a party leader.            

Congressmen in UP are particularly unhappy over the manner in which the UPA government has been pampering the SP and BSP, thereby nullifying all of Rahul Gandhi's efforts to project the party as a viable alternative during the Assembly elections, the report says.

For instance, all through his campaign, Rahul kept targeting the BSP symbol and said that the elephant was gobbling up money sent by the Centre (Lucknow mein hathi sara paisa  kha jaata hai).

Rahul, the report says, had struck at Mayawati's corruption, the NRHM scams and parks and memorials. However, his allegations went in vain when Pranab Mukherjee came to Lucknow on his presidential campaign and gave a clean chit to Mayawati on her parks and memorials at a press conference.

"I am impressed by her parks and memorials which are certainly not in self-interest," he said as  central ministers from the Congress clapped on.

"Rita Bahuguna Joshi, whose house was burnt down in the BSP regime, was asked to accompany Pranab Mukherjee to Mayawati's house and to the press conference and even had to clap and smile at everything that the BSP leader said. Can anything be more humiliating for us?" a party veteran asked.

If Congressmen thought this was the end, there was more to come when Mayawati was given a clean chit in her disproportionate assets case by the Supreme Court and the CBI was reprimanded for investigating the matter, and all this on the eve of the presidential elections.

The CBI, according to sources, is also preparing to quietly bury the NRHM scam, which implicates BSP leaders and also drop the disproportionate assets case against Mulayam Singh and his family members.

Interestingly, as the Congress grovelled at the feet of the BSP, it also made sure that it adequately compensated the Samajwadi Party by announcing a Rs 45,000 crore financial package for the state.

To add insult to injuries, the UP unit of the Congress has been asked not to criticise the UP government at any cost even though SP minister Azam Khan regularly keeps taking potshots at Congressmen.

"The Congress in UP has no identity left of its own. The party's credibility is being demolished and the Congress will have to pay the price in the Lok Sabha elections because people will no longer take us seriously. Rahul Gandhi is being perceived as a leader who has no hold over his own party," said a former UPCC president.