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UP Elections 2022 | Conspicuous by his absence, Rahul Gandhi to hit campaign trail before Phase 5 polling

While the Wayanad member of parliament (MP) has campaigned in Goa, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Punjab ­­– the other four states that went to polls ­– he has not, so far, addressed a rally or undertaken any door-to-door campaign in Uttar Pradesh, where the fourth round of polling was held with over 57 per cent voter turnout on February 23.

February 24, 2022 / 12:42 PM IST
Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra launched the Uttar Pradesh Youth Manifesto at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters in Delhi on January 21. (File)

Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra launched the Uttar Pradesh Youth Manifesto at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters in Delhi on January 21. (File)

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has so far been absent from poll campaign in Uttar Pradesh, the politically-crucial state, where the fifth round of the seven-phased assembly election will be held on February 27.

While Rahul Gandhi, a Wayanad member of parliament (MP), has campaigned in Goa, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Punjab ­­– the other four states that went to polls ­– he has not, so far, addressed a rally or undertaken any door-to-door campaign in Uttar Pradesh, where the fourth round of polling was held with nearly 60 per cent voter turnout on February 23.

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Five assembly seats of Rae Bareli, considered a Congress bastion and represented by party president Sonia Gandhi in Lok Sabha, went to polls in fourth phase. Sonia Gandhi addressed a virtual rally urging Rae Bareli voters to vote for Congress on February 21.

The Congress campaign in the state has been led by party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who has been hitting the campaign trail aggressively. Vadra has been assisted by senior leaders including Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, former Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, party MP Deepender Singh Hooda, among others.

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Rahul’s absence, despite being lead campaigner of the Congress, has surprised party workers. In the past elections, including the 2017 assembly polls, Gandhi has been at the forefront of Congress’ poll campaign.

Reports said Rahul Gandhi will campaign in Amethi and Prayagraj on February 25, the last day of campaigning for the two districts going to the polls along with ten other districts, in the fifth phase on February 27.

Amethi has three assembly seats, two represented by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and one by the Samajwadi Party (SP). Prayagraj, erstwhile Allahabad, has 12 assembly seats with eight represented by the BJP.

Rahul Gandhi was an MP from Amethi between 2004 to 2014. He lost the 2019 elections from the seat to BJP's Smriti Irani. He however won from Wayanad in Kerala, the second seat he contested in 2019 general elections.

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Rahul and Priyanka were in Amethi and Rae Bareli on December 18, two weeks before the schedule of polls for the five state assemblies was announced by the Election Commission of India. The two addressed a press conference with Priyanka Gandhi in Delhi on January 21 to release the party’s youth manifesto for Uttar Pradesh. The two went to Varanasi on February 20 to pay obeisance to Guru Ravidas at the temple of the Dalit icon on Ravidas Jayanti.

With phase four of election, polling has been held in as many as 231 of the 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. The remaining 172 seats will vote in three phases on February 27, March 3 and March 7 while the results will be declared on March 10, along with the results of Goa, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Manipur.

The ruling BJP faces a keen challenge from the Akhilesh Yadav-led SP in Uttar Pradesh. In the last assembly polls, the BJP had secured a win with a three-fourth majority, with firebrand leader Yogi Adityanath being later announced as the chief minister. The SP government could win 47 seats while the Congress party won only seven seats.

Clearly, the party is fighting a tough battle in Uttar Pradesh with party leaders who believe that Rahul Gandhi joining the campaign would add momentum to the party’s effort.



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