Amethi: In a major jolt to Congress in Amethi, the son of the local party leader who was the proposer for former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, will challenge party president Rahul Gandhi in the upcoming Lok Sabha election.
Haji Haroon Rasheed, son of Haji Sultan Khan, who had signed as the proposer on the nomination forms of Rajiv Gandhi in the 1991 parliamentary elections and Sonia Gandhi in 1999, told IANS that they felt "completely sidelined" in the Congress.
"And now entire community is feeling neglected due to the local leadership here," he added.
Asked about the reason for contesting against Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, Rasheed said, "The local leadership of the Congress has been neglecting us for long time. And due to this, the development of the area as well as the community... both were hampered."
On how they will prevail against the Congress in Amethi, Rasheed said: "There are about 6.5 lakh Muslim voters in the constituency and we all will vote against Congress."
He also showed the photographs of Haji Sultan Khan with the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi at his residence in Furstaganj, which is located just three km away from Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Academy, set up by the Congress.
The Congress president this time is facing stiff challenge from the BJP'S candidate Smriti Irani, who is again contesting from the same constituency.
Irani had come second in 2014 elections. She had got over three lakh votes against 4.07 lakh polled by Rahul Gandhi.
People in Amethi also complain that Rahul Gandhi has not been unable to take forward the development works of Rajiv Gandhi.
The seat of Amethi has remained loyal to the Gandhis for nearly four decades.
Sanjay Gandhi, the younger son of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, won the elections in 1980. After his death, his elder brother Rajiv Gandhi won the elections from the seat in 1981 (bypolls), 1984, 1989 and 1991. After Rajiv Gandhi's assassination in 1991, his wife Sonia Gandhi contested and won in 1999.
In 2004, Sonia Gandhi left the seat for Rahul Gandhi, and since then the seat is represented by him.
Elections in Amethi are scheduled on May 6. Counting votes will take place on May 23.
Meanwhile, reports are rife that Rahul could choose a seat in Kerala or Karnataka apart from Amethi.
At a meeting at Sonia Gandhi’s residence, the leaders positively responded to the demand to field Rahul from another seat as a tactical move. It is believed contesting in a Congress bastion like Wayanad in Kerala will help the party president find time for campaigns elsewhere in the country.
Interestingly, a suggestion to field Rahul only from Wayanad also came up in party circles. With this the Amethi seat, where Rahul has been formally declared as a candidate for this Lok Sabha election, could be handed over to his sister and AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. However, this proposal has been vetoed by their mother Sonia.
A likely plan could be Rahul giving up Amethi if he wins from there alongside a second seat and Priyanka being asked to contest in the UP seat in a bypoll later after Rahul vacates it. This is the most accepted formula as of now among the party leaders.
However, Rahul Gandhi on Monday did not give any confirmation on contesting from Wayanad.