Bengaluru: In an ironic development a day after George Fernandes’ death, the Chikmagalur and Udupi Congress committee has asked Priyanka Gandhi to contest from Chikmagalur-Udupi Lok Sabha seat in the coming election. Forty one years ago, her grandmother Indira Gandhi had won from Chikmagalur in a by-election. Fernandes was the chief campaigner against Indira Gandhi in that election.
Chikmagalur, the Coffee bowl of India, and the coastal district Udupi were separate Lok Sabha seats till 2004 Parliament election. After the delimitation of constituencies, they were merged in 2009.
The seat is currently held by BJP’s firebrand leader Shobha Karandlaje and the Congress wants to wrest the seat this time riding on Priyanka wave. They argue that Indira Gandhi’s win from Chikmagalur had re energised the Congress which was out of power in 1977 for its Emergency excesses and the same story will be repeated if her granddaughter contests from the same seat.
Ruben Moses, district Congress spokesperson, said, “We want to create Congress wave again. We are so happy that Priyanka Gandhi has joined the party as a general secretary. If she agrees to enter the Parliament from Chikmagalur, we would be so happy”.
He also added that Priyanka can create history and it will bring the Congress back to power both at the Centre and the state. The Congress won Chikmagalur in 1991 and Udupi in 1999.
Priyanka Gandhi’s official entry into politics has enthused a lot of Congress workers in Karnataka. In fact, Karnataka was one of the first states to demand her entry into politics way back in 1999.
Both Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi had made their first appearance at a Congress rally in Bellary. Their mother and newly appointed Congress president Sonia Gandhi had contested her first election from Bellary and Amethi in 1999. Her children had campaigned extensively for Sonia Gandhi in Bellary. After winning from both, Sonia had resigned from Bellary.
H Vishwanath, who was then a Cabinet minister in the S M Krishna’s Congress government in 2000, had made a public statement asking Sonia Gandhi to prefer daughter over son. It had led to a huge furore later. After a fall out with Siddaramaiah, he quit Congress, joined JDS and is now its MLA and state unit president.
Some state Congress leaders have even requested Priyanka Gandhi to contest from Chikkaballapura or Bengaluru South Lok Sabha seats.