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3-min read

Act 2.0: Smriti Irani Checkmates Rahul in Gandhi Bastion of Amethi

Political experts opined that the tenacity shown by Smriti Irani in Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi constituency seemed to have worked in her favour.

News18.com

Updated:May 23, 2019, 11:55 PM IST
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Act 2.0: Smriti Irani Checkmates Rahul in Gandhi Bastion of Amethi
Mir Suhail/News18.com
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New Delhi: Adding insult to injury, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi conceded defeat on home turf Amethi against BJP’s Smriti Irani on Thursday evening, not waiting for counting of the remaining 3 lakh votes.

At the time of publishing this report, Irani was leading by a margin of 55,120 votes.

The development came as a shock to many as Gandhi has been the MP from Amethi since 2004. However, in 2014, Smriti Irani gave him a tough contest and garnered over 3 lakh votes in the parliamentary constituency with vote margin down to a lakh.

Political experts opined that the tenacity shown by the actor-turned-politician seemed to have worked in her favour. Irani stayed put in Amethi for several months, campaigning and interacting with the locals. On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi, due to his national duties, spent most of his time touring the country.

The BJP had fielded Irani yet again in the hope that she would improve her performance from five years ago, but Irani had capitalised on Gandhi's absence and has accused him of running away from a fight.

Congratulating Irani for her win, Gandhi hoped she would fulfil the aspirations of the people in Amethi.

Gandhi also offered to resign from his post after the party was once again routed at the hands of Narendra Modi-led BJP in the Lok Sabha elections, sources told News18. However, erstwhile Congress supremo and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi turned down the offer.

Sources told News18 that the matter will be taken up by the Congress Working Committee (CWC) in its next meeting, scheduled some time later this week.

Gandhi congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the win as the BJP improved its tally from 2014 and crossed the 300-mark, making it the biggest mandate for a single party since 1984.

But he refused to go into the reasons for the defeat of the Congress, which has only marginally improved its tally from a rock bottom of 44 in 2014 to 49 in 2019. Both the elections were fought under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership. Gandhi said that he would not want to discuss the reasons for the defeat since today is only the day to respect India’s mandate, and the post-mortem will be done at the CWC meeting.

The Congress was wiped off the map in the Hindi heartland and only defeated the BJP in Punjab and Kerala, from where Rahul Gandhi had contested on his second seat, Wayanad.

On the other hand, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi retained the Raebareli Lok Sabha seat, considered her fortress, since 2004. She won against her BJP counterpart with a comfortable margin of over a lakh votes. It has been a dismal performance for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh so far with the grand old party ahead in only the one seat.

Uttar Pradesh, which is said to hold the key to power in New Delhi, was hosting some of the most exciting poll contests like Varanasi from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi won, Mainpuri from where SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav is fighting his last election and is set to win.

For most political pundits and psephologists, the electoral outcome was predicated on the strong caste foundations of the gathbandhan, which counted on the solidarity of the Backward and Dalit castes — that is the OBCs and SCs — along with the undisputed support from the strong Muslim population.

Then, there was the Congress factor, equally baffling for both the alliance as well as the BJP. Though Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi claimed that her candidates if not winning will actually cut into BJP’s vote bank, the reality was that it would also hurt the alliance prospects on certain seats.

| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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