Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi will kick-start campaign for UP assembly polls from his former Lok Sabha seat, Amethi. The date has not been finalized yet but it is said that Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will be in Amethi and Rai Bareli on December 17 and 18.
The Congress, which is weak at its own turf after lone Congress MLA Aditi Singh left to join BJP, has no legislative assembly member in both Lok Sabha seats as both the MLAs elected on Congress ticket in Rai Bareli have shifted to the BJP.
The party is thinking of a good show in the assembly polls to retain the seats and increase its number in the next elections.
Union Minister Smriti Irani, who had defeated Rahul Gandhi in Amethi in 2019, has also been working in Rae Bareli to widen the party base.
Of the total ten Assembly seats in two Lok Sabha constituencies – Amethi and Rae Bareli, six are already with the BJP.
Two Congress legislators from Rae Bareli — Aditi Singh and Rakesh Singh – have switched over to the BJP, and so has Congress MLC Dinesh Pratap Singh from Rae Bareli.
Aditi Singh had revolted against the Congress last year when she defied the party’s whip and attended a special one-day session of the UP Assembly.
Ever since, she has been critical of the Congress leadership and has been praising the BJP. Her joining the BJP was expected since the past several months.
The BJP has also won the control of Zila Panchayats in the two districts.
In Rae Bareli, Irani replaced Sonia Gandhi as chairperson of District Development Coordination and Monitoring Committee, in July.
Sonia Gandhi’s prolonged absence from her constituency, mainly due to her health issues, has dampened the morale of Congress workers there.
The desertion of some senior leaders, including two sitting MLAs, has damaged the party in the region that was once a Congress bastion.
Priyanka Gandhi, who oversees Rae Bareli and Amethi, has also not been able to devote much time to the two constituencies due to her preoccupation with state level issues.
The BJP, on the other hand, has deployed a well-oiled machinery to widen its reach. The Congress does not have a single MLA in Rae Bareli and Amethi.