P Chidambaram on Friday during a media briefing in Mumbai gave the latest version from Congress about Priyanka Gandhi backing away from fighting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh against PM Narendra Modi.
"Did she tell you she is going to contest and then she backed off? You are assuming she was going to contest. I am also willing to contest but party must consent. You will also contest if the party appoints you. DId the party announce she is going to contest? The media announced she is going to contest candidate and then said she withdrew," he said.
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.
However, the party chose Ajay Rai, a local strongman in the holy city 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.
On Friday, as Sam Pitroda blamed Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for backing out from contesting in Varanasi against PM Narendra Modi, Congress insider Rajeev Shukla gave it away that it was indeed the party president who had decided to not field her in the holy city.
Shukla during a media briefing a couple of hours after Pitroda's statement refuted him saying that it was the Congress president who had decided to not field her from the constituency.
"If you remember, she had said since day one that she wanted to fight in Varanasi and said that it was Rahul Gandhi decision. The Congress president decided that the former contestant Ajay Rai who had worked for five years must be given an opportunity to contest. She had said at every platform that the Congress president who will decide to fight."