VIP SEATS

The buzz in Uttar Pradesh is that all the heavyweights from the Opposition are looking to contest this Lok Sabha election to counter the Narendra Modi narrative. “When they say Modi vs Whom we will show them a dozen strong leaders, all taking him on, on issues” says an Opposition leader. And so Mayawati has decided to break from convention and is looking at either Ambedkarnagar or Nagina in Bijnor district. Akhilesh Yadav too will contest the Lok Sabha elections from Kannauj, which is currently held by his wife, Dimple. Speaking to the media, Akhilesh said, “The Opposition has charged us with parviaarbad, which is why Dimple will not contest.” However, his father Mulayam Singh Yadav will contest from Mainpuri.

PRIYANKA FOR RAE BARELI

The most interesting debut is from the Congress, where Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is tipped to take over the Rae Bareli seat from her mother. While Sonia Gandhi will go to the Upper House, Priyanka’s entry is expected to energise the party, which is at its lowest ebb in UP and elsewhere. Of course, there are those who are wondering if she will end up being an alternate power centre to her brother, but ever since Rahul’s elevation as party chief, her role has also increased. Whether it was overseeing the preparations for the AICC session to commemorate Rahul’s presidency or later on the government formation in Karnataka, she has been active behind the scenes. And the Congress is now convinced that it needs every winnable face on board.

WILL VARUN LEAVE?

There is a lot of speculation as to whether Varun Gandhi will join the Congress eventually. He has certainly been sidelined in the BJP, for a party that has made Gandhi-Mukt Bharat its poll plank, cannot be seen promoting a Gandhi of its own. While Varun’s equation with his cousins, especially Priyanka is good, one is not quite sure whether Rahul will welcome him. In the meantime, Varun has been busy addressing rallies, college students and writing well argued editorials in national dailies. He’s building his own image without support from any party set-up, but the question remains: will he find a platform that welcomes him?

THE MISSING FACE

The Madhya Pradesh Congress has just released it promotional video, which begins with Sonia Gandhi, has liberal footage of Rahul Gandhi and shows Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia, but leaves Digvijaya Singh out. One reason is that Digvijaya has ruled himself out of the chief ministerial race. But he still remains the Congress’ star campaigner, which makes his omission all the more intriguing. There is also speculation in MP as to whether both Scindia and Nath will forgo their Lok Sabha seats and contest the Assembly polls. A decision on this is still to be taken.

SP’s DAY OUT

Akhilesh Yadav is set to take his party to Madhya Pradesh and is planning a three-day launch in Bhopal next week. He also plans to contest the coming Assembly elections, alone. The SP chief is miffed with the Congress, which has offered a tie-up to the BSP but not the SP. His rejoinder is that if the Congress thinks the SP unviable in MP then the SP has the same low opinion of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh. So the Congress should not expect the same large hearted share in seat sharing that it got in the 2017 Assembly elections, when Akhilesh gave the party 105 seats despite everyone telling him that he was wasting these on the Congress. Later, during the Gujarat polls, the Congress refused to give the SP a single seat. Now, Akhilesh Yadav has had enough and he is sending a message of his own—from Bhopal.

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