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Congress fields Ajai Rai to take on Narendra Modi from Varanasi again; ends debate on Priyanka Gandhi contesting Lok Sabha election

The Congress has fielded five-time MLA Ajai Rai from Varanasi to contest the Lok Sabha election against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The news comes amid speculation that the party would field Priyanka Gandhi, Congress general secretary for Uttar Pradesh East, to fight it out against Modi.

 Congress fields Ajai Rai to take on Narendra Modi from Varanasi again; ends debate on Priyanka Gandhi contesting Lok Sabha election

Congress leader Ajay Rai. News18

The Grand Old Party made the announcement at a time when Varanasi is gearing for a massive roadshow that Modi is scheduled to lead on Thursday evening, a day before he will file his nomination papers from Varanasi.

Varanasi will vote in the last phase of the Lok Sabha election on 19 May.

Rai was earlier a BJP leader as well as a Samajwadi Party leader, who also contested as an Independent candidate at one time. A local strongman in Varanasi, he had lost the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Varanasi to Modi.

Speaking to News18, Rai said he was not aware that the party would field him from Varanasi, and that he found out about his nomination only after he was contacted by the media. On the speculation around Priyanka, he denied that the Congress had deliberately spread rumours to keep interest alive, adding that he had her support.

He added: "I didnt lie to the public even last time. We are from Kashi (Varanasi) and work for Kashi from here... The way Modiji hurt religious sentiments at the Vishwanath temple, the people of Varanasi will aptly respond to that."

Moreover, the Congress has fielded Madhusudan Tiwari from Gorakhpur. He will be contesting the election from Gorakhpur — Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath's bastion — against actor-politician Ravi Kishan.

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Updated Date: Apr 25, 2019 14:34:59 IST