With Sonia Gandhi expected to visit her Lok Sabha constituency Rae Bareli after a span of almost nine months, Congress workers are eager to know whether she will contest from the seat this election, and who will be her replacement if she doesn’t.
Sonia will arrive in Rae Bareli for a two-day visit on Wednesday. Over the past five years, her visits have been limited amid reports of health issues. Even her last trip to Rae Bareli had come after a period of around one and half years.
The visit comes at a time when the BJP had laid special focus on both Rae Bareli and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s constituency Amethi, with senior party leaders visiting the Gandhi bastions multiple times over the past months. In December last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stones for several public projects and also flagged off the 900th coach and Humsafar rake made by the Modern Coach Factory, which was once Sonia’s pet project.
Rahul’s visit, which was to clash with that of Textile Minister Smriti Irani, was recently rescheduled. Now both he and his mother are scheduled to land together at the Fursatganj airfield.
The Congress president is expected to attend public functions starting with a meeting of village heads in Fursatganj area, and also pay tribute to martyrs at the ‘Kisan Shaheed Sthal’ there. He is also scheduled to participate in an inspection of villages on his way to Gauriganj headquarters, participate in an oath ceremony of Bar Association and address a ‘Nukkad sabha’ in Haliapur area the same day.
Both Sonia and Rahul will stay at the same guesthouse, where they will meet people from their respective constituencies.
“Apart from the vigilance committee meeting, Sonia Gandhi will also inaugurate projects completed with her MP LAD fund and meet organisation leaders in Rae Bareli on January 23. She will meet the public at Bhuvemau guesthouse on January 24 before leaving for Delhi,” said Congress City president in Rae Bareli Saidul Hasan. After the guesthouse meeting, Rahul will visit villages in Salon area.
At a time when the Congress has declared it will contest all 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state alone after SP and BSP excluded it from their alliance, sources said party workers wonder whether Priyanka Gandhi may contest from Rae Bareli instead of Sonia. Priyanka, who earlier used to accompany Sonia on her visits to the constituency, had last visited Rae Bareli during the Assembly polls in 2017.
“Party workers are inquisitive about who will finally contest from here. We are hoping that things will become clearer during our interaction with madam. But as of now, we are hoping that Soniaji will contest again,” said a district Congress leader.