New Delhi: Son of long-time Gandhi family loyalist has turned against its scion Rahul Gandhi. Haji Haroon Rasheed will contest against Rahul Gandhi in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from Gandhi family’s bastion Amethi.

Rasheed is the son of Haji Sultan Khan, the person who was the proposer to ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 general polls as well as UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in 1999.

The May 6 contest, which was earlier billed as a cracker of an election between Rahul Gandhi and Union Minister Smriti Irani, who has emerged as a strong challenger to the Gandhi hegemony over Amethi, has now turned even more interesting.

Upsetting Rahul’s equation

Rasheed’s entry in the fray would only help the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as he is expected to run away with a large number of Muslim votes that would have otherwise gone to the Congress kitty.

The challenge to Rahul Gandhi is now more acute than ever as in the last polls Irani had come quite close to the final tally. She had received over three lakh votes, while Rahul had won with a vote count of just over four lakh.

Rasheed said he felt completely sidelined in the party and claimed that the entire community was “feeling neglected due to the local leadership here.”

"The local leadership of the Congress has been neglecting us for a long time. And due to this, the development of the area as well as the community have been hampered," he said.

Explaining the difficulty for Rahul after his entry in the fray, Rasheed himself explained that there were nearly 6.5 lakh Muslim voters in the constituency.

Amethi’s past

The seat has remained the Gandhi bastion for a long time.

In 1980, Sanjay Gandhi, the younger son of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, had won Amethi followed by his elder brother and ex-PM Rajiv Gandhi in 1981 by-polls necessitated by Sanjay’s untimely death.

Rajiv continued to be elected from Amethi till his assassination in 1991.

Sonia Gandhi won the seat in 1999, while her son and now the Congress president Rahul has represented the people of Amethi since Sonia Gandhi abdicated the seat for him.