Priyanka Gandhi to Make Electoral Debut in India By-Election

(Bloomberg) -- Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, a scion of India’s Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, will make her electoral debut from a constituency recently won by her brother, Rahul Gandhi, a top leader with the opposition Indian National Congress party.

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Vadra, 52, will contest the by-election in Wayanad in the southern state of Kerala to try and retain a parliamentary seat for the Congress party. Her brother, Rahul, won Wayanad and also Raebareli in the key northern state of Uttar Pradesh, in the recently concluded national elections. Indian political leaders often contest elections from more than one constituency but can represent only one in parliament.

“In the last 5 years, the people of Wayanad stood with me and gave me energy to fight in a very difficult time,” Rahul Gandhi said in a press briefing on Sunday. He went on to express confidence in his sister’s ability to win the election, and said she would “be a very good representative for the people of Wayanad.”

While Vadra has been a star campaigner for the Congress party over the years, she has refrained from contesting elections. She was appointed as the Congress party’s general secretary in 2019.

Her electoral debut could reinforce the Gandhi family’s hold on the Congress party and further buoy an opposition that performed better than expected in the recent national elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party failed to win an outright majority for the first time in a decade and will have to rely on a coalition of parties to govern. The Congress party nearly doubled its tally of seats in parliament, winning 99 seats compared with 52 in 2019.

Should Vadra win Wayanad, all three key family members would hold seats in India’s parliament for the first time. Vadra’s mother, Sonia Gandhi, is a member of the upper house of parliament. Vadra’s great-grandfather, grandmother and father were all prior prime ministers of India.

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