Some high profile contests to watch out in 2019
Amethi: Smriti Irani vs. Rahul Gandhi
Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s performance in his home seat Amethi is one of the most watched seats in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections and challenging him for the second time on his home turf is Smriti Irani, Union Minister for Textiles.
This contest is already drawing a lot of attention and the challenge to the Congress President this time is expected to be greater than in 2014. Amethi returned Rahul Gandhi in 2004, 2009 and 2014 with large margins and so in 2019, the party high command should be confident of another victory. Is it?
There is some serious concern this time. Between 2009 and 2014, the margin for victory for Rahul Gandhi was down from 370,198 votes to 107,903 votes, a decline of around 29 percent. In 2014, Smriti Irani lost to Rahul Gandhi, but then she had little time to prepare for the fight. 2019 is expected to be different, and this is why the Congress high command is worried and would like to field its president from an additional seat it as a back-up.
So, is 2019 going to spring a surprise in Amethi? Expect all eyes to remain on this much-awaited contest.
NDTV reports a possibility of Rahul Gandhi also fighting from Wayanad in Kerala.
Wayanad is a beautiful hill district in north-east Kerala, bordering Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Late Congress leader MI Shahnawaz had won in 2009 and 2014 from this constituency and is considered a Congress stronghold. With Mr. Shahnawaz passing away the Wayanad seat has been vacant, and the state Congress party is keen to have Rahul Gandhi contest from it.
Patna Sahib: Shatrughan Sinha vs. Ravi Shankar Prasad
Patna Sahib in Bihar has been a BJP stronghold which has elected actor-turned BJP politician Shatrughan Sinha in 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections. In 2009, Shatrughan Sinha had won by 316,549 votes (57.30 percent) and 485,905 votes (55.04 percent).
In 2019, the BJP is fielding Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad from Patna Sahib. It doesn’t come as a surprise. For some time now, Shatrughan Sinha has been a very vocal critic of the policies initiated by PM Narendra Modi and has embarrassed the party every time he has voiced his opinion publicly.
Patna Sahib constituency is important for its location and political significance and winning here is deeply critical for the BJP. Ravi Shankar Prasad is an old hand and a familiar name in the area. By fielding him against Shatrughan Sinha, who is most likely to fight on a Congress ticket, throws up a paradox for voters – do they continue to vote for their popular and charismatic leader or do they maintain continuity of party loyalty? It is expected to be a cracker of a contest and will be watched closely by all.