Priyanka Gandhi Vadra broke her silence today on not contesting the national election from Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. After months of build-up, the Congress announced last week that not Priyanka Gandhi but Ajay Rai, a local Congress leader who had finished third in the 2014 polls, would be the party’s candidate again in the temple town.

“I did not pull out (of Varanasi),” Priyanka Gandhi asserted, speaking to NDTV in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi, where she was campaigning for her brother Rahul Gandhi, the Congress president.

Priyanka Gandhi joined the Congress in January – after years of playing an unofficial role in the party’s decisions – and was given charge of the Congress campaign in 41 of Uttar Pradesh’s 80 seats in eastern UP. Jyotiraditya Scindia was given charge of the rest.

It was Priyanka Gandhi whose comments had set speculation ablaze when she told party workers requesting her to contest from her mother Sonia Gandhi’s Raebareli seat: “Why not Varanasi?” Since then, every time reporters asked her about being the Congress candidate against PM Modi, she had maintained that she was ready to contest wherever her party wanted her to.


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