Priyanka Gandhi not contesting against Modi: Congress
Several assume that even leaving out Priyanka would have made sense if a strong name was declared against Modi.
Congress has elected local candidate Ajay Rai who had stood in 2014 as well when he polled a little over 75,000 votes, after igniting rumors over Priyanka Gandhi Vadra taking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at Varanasi. Congress President Rahul Gandhi had said that the uncertainty on Priyanka's candidature would carry on while she had said the judgment was up to her brother until now. After weeks of assuming, it specified that Congress is not keen to risk taking Gandhi in direct competition with Modi and elevats the question whether raising the stakes was preventable.
Preliminary reports of Priyanka answering to appeals of party workers to contest from a family seat in UP by asking "why not Varanasi" were seen to be formally blessed leaks. The new remarks kept the political cauldron bubbling for a while, as the reports may well have been intended to test waters. To target the Congress first family, BJP promptly apprehended on Rai's candidature. Finance minister Arun Jaitley said, "Deeply disappointed with Congress's decision of not fielding Priyanka Gandhi from Varanasi. The last two months that she has been in the public life has driven home the point. India has changed, and dynasties don't matter. Her exit from the contest shows what matters."
"Priyanka Gandhi tried to assess the situation; she even asked people if she should contest. But she never said I want to contest and party does not want me to, because that it is not possible. It is a party decision and there is no ambiguity about it," said AICC spokesperson Ragini Nayak. Congress leaders had been worried that the party had not declared its conclusion to keep Priyanka away from the contest, from the very beginning. When it was finally made public, the organization appeared in a bit of a spot to explain what purpose had been served by the strategy adopted.
Several assume that even leaving out Priyanka would have made sense if a strong name was declared against Modi. When AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal contested from Varanasi and came second, Rai finished a poor third in 2014. There was also a probability that in spite of the bitterness between Congress and SP-BSP association within the opposition camp, Congress could have extended support to the candidate declared by Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati. The observers felt that it would have made more political sense.