The suspense over whether Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will retain claim over their family strongholds, the Amethi and Raebareli Lok Sabha constituencies, will end soon, with Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge expected to announce candidates for the two seats in Uttar Pradesh in a day. Both the seats will go to the polls in the fifth phase of the general elections on May 20.

The Gandhi family’s indecision in contesting from Amethi and Raebareli has invited criticism from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has accused them of running away from their pocket borough owing to a lack of confidence in taking on the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.

Also read: Birthplace of reservation strives for harmony amid political turbulence

While Rahul has once again contested from Wayanad constituency in Kerala, which he won in the 2019 elections, he has not spoken his mind on whether he would seek re-election from Amethi, where he lost last time to the BJP’s Smriti Irani, who filed her nomination on Monday.

A section within the Congress believes that Rahul should contest from Amethi, which he represented from 2004 to 2019, irrespective of the outcome, to signal to party cadres and supporters that he is ready to take on any rival. Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi has quit from Raebareli Lok Sabha constituency to become a Rajya Sabha MP, leaving the seat vacant. Interestingly, the BJP is also waiting for the Congress to declare its candidate from the Raebareli general seat before announcing its own nominee.

“CEC has authorised the Congress President for Raebareli and Amethi, and he will take a decision soon and you will know officially in the next 24 to 30 hours,” Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said at a press conference on Wednesday. The CEC could not take a call on candidates for the seats in its meeting held last month.

It’s learnt that the CEC received a proposal from the party’s Uttar Pradesh unit suggesting that the Gandhi family should contest from the Amethi and Raibareli constituencies. Some time back, Robert Vadra, AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s husband, publicly expressed his inclination to contest from the Amethi parliamentary seat.

Congress party sources do not rule out the possibility of Rahul Gandhi taking up the mantle against Irani once again. Congress leader Rajeev Shukla said, “The Gandhi family is very popular and lakhs of people are coming to their public meetings. The decision has been left to the CEC”.