New Delhi: Owing to much chatter over the Congress fielding Ajay Rai from Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency, and not general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the party’s overseas chief Sam Pitroda on Friday said that it was Priyanka’s decision to not contest from the seat.

The Grand Old Party has fielded Ajay Rai once again this Lok Sabha election even after he came a distant third in 2014 elections by polling 75,614 votes as opposed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who won by polling 5,81,022 as against the first runner-up Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party, who got 2,09,238 votes.

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Rai will be up against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and SP-BSP-RLD’s Shalini Yadav this time.

Addressing the media on this, Pitroda said, ” It (not contesting from Varanasi) was Priyanka ji’s decision, she has other responsibilities. She thought rather than concentrating on one seat she should focus on the job she has at hand. So, that decision was her and she decided it.”

Trying to calm the clamour over Priyanka allegedly ‘chickening out’ like Union finance minister Arun Jaitley pointed out earlier, Sam Pitroda emphasised that the party Uttar Pradesh (East) in-charge already has her plate full.

In a blog post “Refuge in Wayanad and a Refuge Away From Varanasi – The Story of a Family Dynasty”, Jaitley said that two major political developments took place on Thursday. The first, he said, was the “huge road show” of Modi at Varanasi and the second was “surreptitious announcement” by the Congress of fielding “a political lightweight” against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwart.

“The build-up of the last two weeks had been that Priyanka Gandhi would be fielded against the Prime Minister. She rejoiced in giving daily bytes to the media that she was ready to take on the Prime Minister. Her brother claimed that the party was building up the suspense for an eventual thriller,” Jaitley added.

In the run-up to Congress announcing its candidates, both Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi had been adding fuel to fire over the latter’s probable high-voltage contest from Varanasi.

Speaking to reporters recently, the Congress president had said that “I will leave you in suspense” on being prodded on Priyanka’s candidature from the Prime Minister’s Lok Sabha constituency. Later, even Priyanka was quoted as saying, “I am ready to contest from Varanasi if the Congress president asks me to.”

With IANS inputs