The Congress vice president has eyes on the larger objective of his partnership with Akhilesh, which may provide the template against the BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, says Amit Agnihotri.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi will skip the rallies in the two assembly segments -- Unchahar and Sareni -- falling under the Raebareli parliamentary constituency on Friday as alliance partners Samajwadi Party and the Congress are locked in a friendly fight in these.
Instead, Rahul will address rallies in Raebareli city and Maharajganj on Friday to seek votes for Congress nominees. Congress president Sonia Gandhi represents Raebareli in the Lok Sabha while Rahul represents neighbouring Amethi.
Sources said Rahul had his eyes on the larger objective of his political partnership with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, which may well provide the template against the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The Congress has decided to contest all the 10 assembly seats falling under the Amethi and Raebareli parliamentary constituencies although the Samajwadi Party had offered it only four as part of a seat-sharing agreement.
Of the total 403 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party is contesting 298 and the Congress 105.
On Wednesday, Yadav addressed a rally in the Sareni assembly segment in support of the Samajwadi Party nominee Devendra Pratap Singh.
Two assembly seats in the Amethi parliamentary constituency -- Amethi and Gauriganj -- are also witnessing a friendly fight between the Samajwadi Party and the Congress.
The Samajwadi Party has nominated Gayatri Prajapati, who was removed as minister by Yadav but taken back on Mulayam Singh Yadav’s insistence, in Amethi where the Congress plans to field Ameeta Singh, wife of senior party leader Sanjay Singh. The Amethi contest is interesting as the BJP has fielded Sanjay Singh’s estranged wife Garima Singh.
Rakesh Pratap Singh is the Samajwadi Party candidate in Gauriganj from where the Congress plans to nominate Mohammad Naim.
In the Raebareli city seat, where Gandhi will address a rally on Friday, the Congress has fielded Aditi Singh, the daughter of influential local leader Akhilesh Singh who won the 2012 Assembly polls on the Peace Party ticket.
In the Maharajganj reserved seat, the Congress has named Alok Prasad.
Sources said Rahul was filling the gap for his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was scheduled to address rallies in Raebareli city and Maharajganj but could not.
Raebareli will vote in the fourth phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh on February 23 while Amethi will vote in the fifth phase on February 27. Sources said Rahul might address a rally or two in Amethi as well and could skip the two assembly seats where friendly fights were taking place.
IMAGE: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi addressing an election rally in Bareilly. Photograph: PTI Photo