Written byShalini Ojha
On Saturday, Congress announced a fresh list of nine candidates for Uttar Pradesh for upcoming Lok Sabha polls but remained mum on Varanasi.
Amid the suspense, voices supporting Priyanka's candidature grew louder within Congress' ranks.
Congress fielded RK Chaudhary, Ummed Singh Nishad, Krishna Patel, Raj Kishore Singh from Mohanlalganj-SC, Ambedkar Nagar, Gonda, Basti respectively. Ticket for Salempur was given to Rajesh Mishra. Meanwhile, Devvrata Mishra was fielded from Ghazipur, Shiv Kanya Kuhswah from Chandauli, and Rama Kant Yadav from Bhadohi.
The party hasn't announced any name for Varanasi, from where PM Modi is seeking re-election.
Earlier, Priyanka had hinted she isn't completely averse to the idea. When supporters needled her to contest from Raebareli, a seat held by her mother Sonia, Priyanka replied, "Why not Varanasi?"
The holy town worked wonders for BJP in last parliamentary polls. The saffron party was able to script history, by winning 71 out of 80 seats, after PM Modi announced he would contest from Varanasi.
PM Modi also boasts he gave the city a makeover. So, the battle in Varanasi is naturally dear to him.
Historically, Varanasi has mostly voted for BJP.
People within the ranks of Congress believe Priyanka should jump into electoral battle to boost the party's prospects in Eastern UP.
"It will boost the morale of Congress workers and leaders and also the public who see her as the next Indira Gandhi due to her striking resemblance with the late Prime Minister," said leader Pradeep Mathur.
Senior Congress leader Rajesh Mishra also agreed.
"Congress requires her (Priyanka's) services in every nook and corner of UP. If she contests, the party will benefit a lot and it will have a significant impact across UP," Mishra, who won from Varanasi in 2004, said.
Another seat from where Priyanka could probably contest is Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad). Like Varanasi, Prayagraj is also soaked in religion.
BJP has already fielded UP minister and former Congress leader, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, from there.
Reports claimed the party now has to decide if it is fine with three Gandhis contesting Lok Sabha polls from the same state or not.
In BSP-SP-RLD alliance, Varanasi seat fell into SP's lap. This shouldn't pose a problem for Congress if Priyanka is fielded from Varanasi considering she shares amicable terms with SP President Akhilesh Yadav.
To recall, Priyanka played a pivotal role in stitching Congress' alliance with SP for the 2017 assembly elections.
Meanwhile, spokesperson Randeep Surjewala refused to comment on Priyanka's candidature calling it "hypothetical question".
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