Breaking her silence on not contesting the Lok Sabha election from Varanasi, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi said the decision to not field her against Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a “collective one” taken by the party leadership.
Gandhi, who is handling the Congress campaign in east Uttar Pradesh, hinted that these responsibilities kept her from entering the poll fray herself. "I have a big responsibility here, many candidates wanted me to campaign for them and I didn’t want to disappoint them," she told News18 India in an exclusive interview.
Her statement that it was a collective decision, however, goes against what party leader Sam Pitroda said about it. He had said that the decision was taken by Gandhi herself.
“It [not contesting from Varanasi] was Priyanka ji’s decision, she has other responsibilities. She thought rather than concentrating on one seat she should focus on the job she has at hand. So, that decision was her and she decided it,” he had told reporters two days ago at a press conference.
The party's decision to field Ajay Rai against PM Modi from Varanasi constituency had led to much disappointment, with many also claiming that the constant speculation, spurred on by the Congress party itself, had backfired.
Earlier, Priyanka Gandhi had said that the decision to field her from Varanasi lay with the party and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
Gandhi said that as per estimates after three phases of polling, the BJP is far behind. “They will be in a big loss,” she said. “The Congress will be in the lead.”
The Congress leader also dismissed claims that she had, on several occasions, hoped that her brother, Rahul Gandhi, would be elected as Prime Minister after the elections.
“I have never said this. Yes, I want my brother to be happy and successful, and I wish that he succeeds in whatever he does,” she said. “Neither he nor I have any desire for a post.”
Taking a jibe at PM Modi’s “candid and “non-political” interview with actor Akshay Kumar recently, she said it was “strange” that the PM was discussing this when the country was gripped by several issues of more importance.
Gandhi said she had seen “parts” of the interview, which was telecast on April 24.
“In the interview, I saw the bits about where he spoke about mangoes, how he eats mangoes,” she told News18. “It was very strange – when youth in the country are unemployed, farmers are harassed, women are facing several problems, we are discussing how to eat mangoes.”