Who Is Ajay Rai, Congress Candidate Fielded From Varanasi Against PM Modi For Lok Sabha Polls

Ajay Rai, considered a local strongman in the Varanasi area, has changed his party affiliations several times after starting his political career with the ABVP and has fought from Varanasi seat against PM Modi twice, unsuccessfully.

Ajay Rai started his political career with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad ABVP Photo: X/@kashikirai

Congress on Saturday released its fourth list of 45 candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections 2024, fielding party's Uttar Pradesh chief Ajay Rai against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has won the seat for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014 and 2019.

For Uttar Pradesh, where the Congress is in an alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP) and contesting 17 seats, it has announced candidates for nine seats.

Apart from congress-names-karti-chidambaram-manickham-tagore-digvijay-singh-in-4th-candidates-list-full-list">Ajay Rai from Varanasi, Danish Ali has been fielded by Congress from Amroha, Imran Masood from Saharanpur and Alok Mishra from Kanpur.

Who is Ajay Rai

1. Ajay Rai started his political career with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing associated with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

2. Ajay Rai is considered a local strongman in the Varanasi area and has changed his party affiliations several times.

3. After beginning his political career as a member of ABVP, he won the Legislative Assembly elections from the Kolasla constituency three times in a row between 1996 and 2007 on a BJP ticket.

4. Ajay Rai left the BJP after being denied a Lok Sabha ticket and then joined the Samajwadi Party and unsuccessfully contested the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

5. Subsequently, he won the 2009 Legislative Assembly by-election from the Kolasla constituency as an independent candidate.

6. Ajay Rai joined the Indian National Congress in 2012. After the Kolasla constituency ceased to exist post-delimitation, he won the 2012 Assembly elections from the then newly created Pindra constituency, which comprises a sizeable portion of the former Kolasla constituency.

7. Ajay Rai has unsuccessfully contested against PM Modi from Varanasi Lok Sabha seat twice - 2014 and 2019. In 2014, PM Modi won the seat with over 56 per cent vote share, while Arvind Kejriwal had come in second with a margin of over 3.5 lakh votes. Ajay Rai managed to bag around 75,000 votes.

In 2019, PM Modi defeated Samajwadi Party's Shalini Yadav with a vote share of over 63 per cent. While Shalini Yadav got the second spot with around 18 per cent vote share, Rai managed to get around 14 per cent of the votes.

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

When Are Lok Sabha Elections

The schedule for Lok Sabha elections 2024 was announced by the Election Commission of India (ECI) on March 16. The poll body announced that voting for the Lok Sabha elections 2024 will take place in seven phases, starting April 19, while the counting of votes will take place on June 4.

While voting for Phase 1 will take place on April 19, polling for Phase 2 to Phase 7 will take place on: April 26, May 7, May 13, May 20, May 25, and June 1.