Updated May 3rd, 2024 at 10:46 IST

Feroze Gandhi to Rahul Gandhi: Rae Bareli's Tryst With Congress

Amid speculations of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra debuting from Rae Bareli, Congress fielded Rahul Gandhi from here considering it safer than Amethi.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Rahul, Priyanka, Robert Vadra and Mallikarjun Kharge congratulating senior Congress leader Sonia Gandhi on taking oath as Rajya Sabha member | Image: X/ Congress
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New Delhi: The surprise nomination of Rahul Gandhi from Uttar Pradesh's Rae Bareli by the Congress on Friday brings the focus back on the high-profile seat which was first represented in the Lok Sabha by the former Congress president's grandfather Feroze Gandhi.

Amid speculations of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra debuting from Rae Bareli after outing MP and her mother Sonia Gandhi opted for Rajya Sabha, Congress fielded Rahul Gandhi from the seat. Rae Bareli will go to polls on May 20 in the first phase of elections. Congress' decision came in the 11th hour as Friday happens to be the last day of filing nominations for the fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections. 

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Feroze Gandhi Laid the Foundation 

Feroze Gandhi held the seat in the first two elections after Independence. The strong foundations that Feroze Gandhi laid in the constituency were later nurtured and strengthened by his wife and former prime minister Indira Gandhi, who won from the seat in 1967, 1971 and 1980, followed by friends and family members of the Gandhi family.

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Indira Gandhi Carries on the Legacy 

Indira Gandhi contested from two seats in 1980 -- Rae Bareli and Medak in Telangana -- and chose to retain the Medak seat. Arun Nehru won the 1980 bypoll and subsequently in 1984.

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From Arun Nehru, who was late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's right-hand man, to Sheila Kaul, another Gandhi kin, Rae Bareli returned several of the Gandhi family members and aides to the Lok Sabha. The seat was held by Congress' R P Singh in the 1960 bypoll after the demise of Feroze Gandhi, and by another Congress leader Baij Nath Kureel in 1962.

Sheila Kaul, an aunt of Indira Gandhi, represented the seat in 1989 and 1991. In 1999, another friend of the Gandhis, Satish Sharma represented the Rae Bareli constituency, till Sonia Gandhi shifted there.

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When Congress Lost Rae Bareli 

The only time the Congress did not represent the seat was in the wake of the Emergency in 1977 when Janata Party's Raj Narain defeated Indira Gandhi, who was then the prime minister, and BJP's Ashoke Singh in 1996 and 1998.

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Although Sonia Gandhi upon entering electoral politics chose to make her electoral foray from neighbouring Amethi Lok Sabha seat in 1999, a seat her husband Rajiv Gandhi had held earlier, she soon vacated it for her son Rahul's debut in politics in 2004.

Sonia Gandhi Kept Rae Bareli 

Sonia Gandhi subsequently held Rae Bareli four times between 2004 and 2019, although of late, her winning margins began dwindling. The party's calculation behind fielding Rahul from Rae Bareli instead of Amethi, also rests on the conclusion that Rae Bareli is a better, safer seat for the former Congress president, who lost Amethi to BJP's Smriti Irani in 2019 by nearly 50,000 votes.

Sonia's Switch to Rajya Sabha 

She entered the Rajya Sabha for the first time and was the second member of the Gandhi family to do so, after Indira Gandhi who was a member of the upper house from 1964 to 1967. In her farewell message to the people of Rae Bareli, Sonia Gandhi had expressed confidence that the seat which always stood by her and the Gandhis will continue to support her family in future also.

In the message to voters, Sonia Gandhi further said, "My family in Delhi is incomplete without you. It completes when I come to Rae Bareli and meet all of you. My ties with you are very old. I have inherited these ties as a good fortune from my in-laws." Noting that ties of her family with Rae Bareli are "very deep rooted", she said Rae Bareli sent her father-in-law Feroze Gandhi to Lok Sabha in the first general election held after Independence.

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After that, you accepted my mother-in-law Indira Gandhi, she noted, adding that ever since, our relationship grew stronger on the difficult road to affection despite the highs and lows of life and our faith in this bond grew stronger. "You allowed me space to walk along on this shining path. I came to you after losing my mother-in-law and husband and you accepted me with open arms," the former Congress chief said. Sending her respect to elders and love to youngsters, she had said in her message, "I will see you soon". 

 

(With PTI Inputs) 

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Published May 3rd, 2024 at 10:46 IST