Rahul may contest from South too

Rahul may contest from South tooRahul may contest from South too

New Delhi: Amid demands from party activists, Congress president Rahul Gandhi may contest the Lok Sabha polls...

New Delhi: Amid demands from party activists, Congress president Rahul Gandhi may contest the Lok Sabha polls from a seat in Karnataka apart from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, where his candidature has already been announced.There have been demands from Congress activists that Gandhi should be a candidate from a seat in southern India too.

In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi contested from two seats: Varanasi and Vadodara. Former chief minister Siddaramaiah on Friday said the Karnataka Congress wants Rahul Gandhi to contest the coming Lok Sabha polls from the southern state. Calling Gandhi the "next Prime Minister of India", the Congress Legislature Party leader recalled his grandmother Indira Gandhi and mother Sonia Gandhi contesting the Lok Sabha polls from Karnataka in the past.

"Karnataka has always supported & encouraged @INCIndia leaders. It has been proved in case of Smt. Indira ji & Smt. Sonia ji. "We also want our next Prime Minister of India Shri. @RahulGandhi to contest from Karnataka & herald new developmental paradigm. #RaGaFromKarnataka," Siddaramaiah said in a tweet.

While Indira Gandhi had scripted her political comeback from Chikkamagaluru in Karnataka by winning the Lok Sabha bypolls in 1978, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi had contested and won from Ballari in 1999, trouncing BJP's Sushma Swaraj.

Sources said that there is also a demand for Rahul to contest from Tamil Nadu to milk the anti-Modi sentiments, where the Congress has an alliance with the opposition DMK. Congress leaders are pushing for their president contesting from a second seat in Tamil Nadu or in Karnataka in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to boost the party's prospects in South India.

The sources said the leaders strongly feel that Rahul Gandhi should choose to contest from a seat in one of the Southern states not just to boost the party's prospects but also to cash in on the "Hindi and North Indian image" of the BJP, which has not gone down quite well in Southern states. If Rahul concedes to the party leaders' demand to contest the second seat apart from Amethi, he would be the third person from his family to get fielded from Karnataka.

Tamil Nadu would be a safe bet, the sources pointed out, since Rahul Gandhi "enjoys popularity" in the state and the DMK-Congress alliance is being seen as a beacon of hope to "overthrow" the AIADMK-BJP combine. They also pointed to surveys conducted by Tamil television channels which put Rahul Gandhi much ahead of Narendra Modi for prime ministership.

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