Ahmedabad: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi is contesting from two Lok Sabha seats "out of fear", Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani said Sunday, adding that the former will be defeated in Amethi by BJP leader and Union minister Smriti Irani. Senior Congress leader AK Antony had announced earlier in the day that Gandhi would also be contesting from Wayanad Lok Sabha seat in Kerala. An upbeat Rupani went on to add that two Rajya Sabha seats will fall vacant from Gujarat as both Irani, from Amethi, and party chief Amit Shah from Gandhinagar, will win their Lok Sabha contests.
Both Shah and Irani are Rajya Sabha MPs from Gujarat. "It appears Rahul Gandhi has decided to contest from two (Lok Sabha) seats out of fear (of defeat in Amethi). Smritiben Irani will win," he told reporters. "I believe sentiments expressed by journalists in Gujarat that two Rajya Sabha seats will fall vacant is right. This is why he has decided to contest from two seats," Rupani claimed. Irani, who had put up a spirited fight against Gandhi in the 2014 polls before losing by a margin of 1.07 lakh votes, has been renominated by the BJP from Amethi.
The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, which are in an alliance in Uttar Pradesh, have not fielded a candidate in Amethi, and are supporting Gandhi's poll bid. A few days ago, Irani had tweeted that "Amethi has rejected him. The requests for him to contest from other seats are being staged as people (of Amethi) have rejected him". The Congress had hit back claiming Irani will complete a hat-trick of Lok Sabha defeats after the results are announced on May 23. Irani had earlier lost to Congress leader Kapil Sibal from Chandni Chowk seat in New Delhi in the 2004 polls by a margin of 79,000 votes.
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