Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday issued a scathing takedown of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra after the Congress ended speculation about her candidature from Varanasi, fielding its 2014 candidate Ajai Rai against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The party’s announcement came hours before PM Modi was to hold a mega road show in Varanasi and file his nomination today to seek a second term as a lawmaker.
“I am deeply disappointed with the Congress Party’s decision of not fielding Priyanka Gandhi from Varanasi,” Mr Jaitley wrote in a blog titled “Refuge in Wayanad and a Refuge Away From Varanasi – The Story of a Family Dynasty”.
“The last two months that she has been in the public life has driven home the point – “India has changed, dynasties don’t matter”. The myths of Priyanka Gandhi stand eroded,” the minister wrote.
The speculation over Priyanka Gandhi’s candidature has been building since her entry to active politics in February. Over the last weeks, it had soared, with broad hints from Priyanka Gandhi and approval of “suspense” from her brother, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
Off the record, Congress leaders had said her taking on PM Modi would not only set up Varanasi for the biggest contest of the 2019 Lok Sabha election, but also have a ripple effect elsewhere that would benefit the party.
Sources said Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and most senior leaders were against the idea of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra taking on PM Modi in what would have been her maiden election. Sources also said Priyanka Gandhi did not finally agree to take the plunge.
“I had only hoped that Varanasi will give the new India an opportunity to decide the fate of a tried, tested and successful leader as against a new political dynast,” Mr Jaitley wrote.