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Priyanka ‘quietly chickened out of the contest': Arun Jaitley

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New Delhi, Apr 25: The Congress on Thursday ended the suspense over its candidate from the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat after weeks of speculations that Priyanka Gandhi may take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the holy city. The Congress on Thursday again named Ajay Rai, who ended up at third place after Modi and Arvind Kejriwal in the 2014 general election, as its candidate from Varanasi.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

Soon after it became clear that Priyanka Gandhi would not be contesting from Varanasi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley took to Facebook and took a jibe at the Congress. Targeting the Gandhis, Jaitley said the myth that 'Priyanka will make a difference' has been eroded.

Taking a dig at Congress, Jaitley said he was "disappointed" by the party's decision of not fielding Priyanka Gandhi against Prime Minister Narendra Modi after building up a "suspense for an eventual thriller" in the Lok Sabha elections.

[Priyanka Gandhi not to contest from Varanasi as Congress repeats Ajay Rai]

Modi is contesting from Varanasi for the Lok Sabha and there were speculations that Congress would field Priyanka against him.

"The build-up of the last two weeks had been that Priyanka 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 (Congress President Rahul Gandhi) claimed that the party was building up the suspense for an eventual thriller. Obviously, she quietly chickened out of the contest. I am deeply disappointed with the Congress party's decision of not fielding Priyanka from Varanasi," Jaitley wrote in a Facebook post titled 'Refuge in Wayanad and a Refuge Away From Varanasi - The Story of a Family Dynasty'.

Comparing developmental works in Amethi and Rae Bareli -- the traditional constituencies of Gandhis -- with Varanasi, Jaitley said, "The cards are out in the open for public scrutiny. The Gandhis must introspect the plight of Amethi and Rae Bareli in the last forty years and compare it to what the Prime Minister has done in Varanasi in the past five years".

[Will Priyanka contest from Varanasi? Suspense is a double edged sword]

Jaitley said several development works, including building of highways, arterial roads and modernisation of electricity systems, have taken place in Varanasi in the last five years. Speculation on Priyanka Gandhi making her political debut from Varanasi was fuelled after Congress president Rahul Gandhi, to a question on whether he planned to field his sister against PM Modi, said last week, "I will leave you in suspense. Suspense is not always a bad thing."

Jaitley said had Congress fielded Priyanka against Modi, it would have given India an opportunity to decide the fate of a "tried, tested and successful leader" as against a "new political dynast".

India is not a banana republic, the minister said, adding "It is only juvenile politics, where a family lives under an illusion that people will accept it irrespective of credentials, which persuades you to build a climax of Priyanka taking on the Prime Minister and then suffer the wrath of the anti-climax."

Earlier, Priyanka Gandhi and her brother Rahul Gandhi, the Congress president, had dropped hints about a gigantic Varanasi clash ever since the 47-year-old joined politics in January, and was quickly appointed one of the two general secretaries in charge of the Congress campaign in Uttar Pradesh, India's most politically vital state with 80 seats.

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