THE Congress on Thursday fielded Ajay Rai from Varanasi to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ending speculation on a possible blockbuster electoral duel between Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and the PM in the temple town of Uttar Pradesh. The ‘will she, won’t she’ suspense finally ended in a sort of anticlimax with the nomination of Rai, who unsuccessfully contested against Modi in 2014 and finished third in the contest after the BJP leader and Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal.
The Congress also fielded Madhusudan Tiwari from Gorakhpur against BJP’s Ravi Kishan, a popular Bhojpuri film star. Speculation on Priyanka Gandhi making her electoral debut from Varanasi had been rife for the past few weeks and was fuelled after Congress President Rahul Gandhi, to a question on whether he planned to field his sister against PM Modi, said last week, “I will leave you in suspense.
Suspense is not always a bad thing.” Priyanka Gandhi herself added to the buzz by saying on Tuesday that she would abide by her party’s decision on the matter. The Samajwadi Party on Monday declared Shalini Yadav, who joined the party Monday evening, as its candidate from Varanasi.