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Who is Ajay Rai, Congress Varanasi Candidate Contesting Against PM Modi for The 3rd Straight Time? – News18

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Last Updated: March 24, 2024, 12:05 IST

Uttar Pradesh Congress President Ajay Rai.

Ajay Rai, a prominent leader in Uttar Pradesh politics is currently the head of Congress’s UP unit and holds strong influence in the state

The Congres party fielded former BJP leader and its Uttar Pradesh unit chief Ajay Rai to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from Varanasi for the third time.

A veteran political leader from Uttar Pradesh, Rai challenged PM Modi in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections as well from Varanasi but lost both times.

Who is Ajay Rai?

Ajay Rai, a prominent leader in Uttar Pradesh politics is currently the head of Congress’s UP unit and holds strong influence in the state, one of the prime reasons behind his candidature from Varanasi despite constant losses.

A former BJP leader, Rai began his career with the RSS student wing ABVP and won the UP legislative assembly elections from the Kolasla constituency three times in a row between 1996 and 2007 on a BJP ticket.

After being denied a ticket, Rai ditched the BJP to join the Samajwadi Party as the saffron party picked veteran leader Murli Manohar Joshi as its Lok Sabha candidate from Varanasi. He then lost the election against Joshi.

In 2012, Rai joined the Congress and won the UP assembly elections from the Pindra constituency. In 2017, Rai lost the state election from Pindra as a Congress candidate.

In the last Lok Sabha polls, Rai secured the third position from the Varansai seat by bagging only 1.52 lakh votes. He got a vote share of 14.38 per cent against PM Modi’s vote share of 63.62 per cent.

Congress named Rai as the new president of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC), replacing Dalit leader Brijlal Khabri, in August 2023.

Rai is from the Bhumihar community, which has some influence and political weight in certain pockets of eastern Uttar Pradesh. Purvanchal once used to be a Congress stronghold, but now is dominated by the BJP

Why Congress Fielded Ajay Rai Against PM Modi?

Rai’s appointment as of the Congress party was all about giving the party a fresh start from the ground level in Uttar Pradesh, where he enjoys significant support and influence.

Rai’s contribution during the Congress’s Bharat Jodo and Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra – which predominantly convey the message of the party taking to the streets to listen to the common people, Ajai Rai’s candidature can be seen in sync with the same. The party wants someone who can take on PM Modi as a whole in Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress on Saturday released its fourth list of 45 candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls fielding veteran leader Digvijaya Singh from Madhya Pradesh’s Rajgarh and newly-inducted leader Lal Singh from Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur to take on Union minister Jitendra Singh.

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