In Amethi, Rahul Gandhi trails Smriti Irani in early trends

Initial trends show Congress chief Rahul Gandhi trailing Union minister Smriti Irani in Amethi in one of the most high-profile fights of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The fight to retain the family bastion of Amethi has been one of the fiercest of contests of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

With the SP-BSP alliance staying out of the contest in Amethi, Rahul faced a straight contest from Union minister Smiriti Irani who accused him of shifting to Waynad (Kerala) for fear of losing in Amethi that he had represented since 2004.

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In 2014, Rahul got 408651 votes against Irani’s 300748 votes. A low margin of victory of about one lakh votes was attributed to the BJP’s aggressive campaign and consistent attempts to make inroads in Amethi over the years. Rahul’s margin of victory was down substantially from the figure of 3.7 lakh votes with which he had won in 2009.

Also read: Lok Sabha elections 2019: Smriti Irani alleges booth capturing in Amethi, Congress says she’s ‘looking for excuses’

Congress general secretary for east UP, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who led party’s campaign for her brother in the constituency, said the people of the constituency had now understood the BJP’s designs and she was sure of of a higher victory margin for her brother in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The Amethi Congress too had given a slogan of “paanch lakh paar” slogan to boost the victory margin.

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Priyanka, in her election campaign, tried to strike an emotional chord with the local people by often referring to her father and former Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi and his vision for development of Amethi and the country. She also accused Irani of distributing items like shoes to lure the people of the constituency.

Irani has been making regular visits to Amethi after losing the seat in 2014. She has consistently targeted Rahul for ‘neglecting’ Amethi over the years. Her frequent visits had helped the BJP in strengthening cadres and the party was able to win four of five assembly seats in Amethi in 2017 assembly elections. The Samajwadi Party won the fifth seat and the Congress could not win any seat in 2017 assembly polls.

The BJP workers tried to show black flags to Rahul Gandhi on his visits to his Lok Sabha seat on a number of occasions in the past five years. A black flag against a member of Gandhi family was unthinkable a few years ago in Amethi. Posters calling Rahul Gandhi a “Missing MP” had been put up in the constituency more than once in the past five years. But the BJP consistently used backwardness in the constituency as an opportunity to target the Congress chief.

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The Congress and the BSP led Mayawati government had indulged in a war of words when the BSP government (2007-2012) refused to allot land to a number of development projects in Amethi and Rae Bareli. The Congress was able to bring some projects to ground only after installation of Samajwadi Party government in the state in 2012.

After Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, the Congress accused the Centre of indulging in political vendetta as some of Rahul’s projects were either scrapped or shifted out of Amethi.

This time, Rahul had promised that once a Congress government was formed at the Centre, he would ensure to bring double the number of development projects that the NDA government had taken away from the constituency in the past five years.

First Published:
May 23, 2019 09:05 IST

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