After Congress announced that Ajay Rai, and not Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, will be the party's candidate to contest the elections from Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi constituency against BJP's candidate Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit reacted to the development.
She praised Gandhi Vadra for her work so far as the Uttar Pradesh general secretary (east) and said that she is free to take decisions for herself about contesting the Lok Sabha elections or not.
"Whatever decision she takes it is upto her, we have benefited from her coming to the fore," she said to media.
Speculations were high that Congress's newly-appointed general secretary Priyanka Gandhi will be pitted against PM Modi from Varanasi. And party members waited for president Rahul Gandhi to take the final call on the matter.
Five-time MLA from Uttar Pradesh, Ajay Rai is a local strongman in the Varanasi area for the Congress party. While he started his political journey as a BJP leader, in 2009 he joined the Indian National Congress. In 2014 General Elections, Ajay Rai was the Congress candidate from Varanasi against BJP's prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi. However, he lost to PM Modi, coming third after AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal.
Gandhi Vadra had stated previously that she will fight elections against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from his bastion Varanasi constituency, she had left the decision on the party president.
"I have said this repeatedly that I will do what the party asks me to do," said Priyanka Gandhi in Amethi on April 23 while addressing a rally, according to news agency PTI.
BJP president Amit Shah on Wednesday spoke to Republic Media Network's Editor-In-Chief about the speculations on Vadra Gandhi's Varanasi ticket.
"Then you must ask their party president on what decision have they taken. We don't have to take a decision. Our decision is final. Narendra Modi is our candidate. There is no factor. If she wants to contest, she must. Why create a hue & cry over it? Then she must file her candidature. Everyone has a right to contest. She may contest from here (Varanasi). We have no objections at all."