'Son vs Outsider' Echoes in Amethi Even as Rahul Gandhi Chooses Wayanad as Second Seat
Rahul Gandhi has represented Amethi undefeated since 2004, but faces a stiff competition from BJP's Smriti Irani this time.
File photo of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. (PTI)
Amethi: Unfazed by their MP Rahul Gandhi's decision to contest from Kerala's Wayanad seat as well in the Lok Sabha elections, voters in Amethi say they will support "the son" of their "VIP constituency". Amethi goes to polls on May 6.
The Congress on Sunday announced Congress President's decision to contest from two seats -- Amethi and Wayanad. Gandhi has represented Amethi undefeated since 2004, but faces a stiff competition from BJP's Smriti Irani this time. His winning margin narrowed to just over one lakh votes against Irani in 2014.
Asked if the voters in Amethi will support Gandhi after his new decision, Congress District Chief Yogendra Mishra was quick to bring in the "son versus the outsider" analogy in his party leader's support.
He claimed that Gandhi will get no less then five lakh votes in Amethi despite his decision to contest from two seats. "Here everyone considers Rahul Gandhi a part of their family. So the voters will back the son of Amethi, rather than the outsider Smriti Irani," he told IANS.
And the Congress leader's claims found substantial support. Ram Mishra, a resident of Darda village, about 25 km from the Gauriganj district headquarters said: "Whatever work you see here is all because of the Congress."
Deepak Singh, Congress Member of the Legislative Council from Amethi, said: "By accepting the party workers' demand to contest election from Wayanad is a welcome move by Rahul Gandhi."
"Now the competition is no more between Gandhi and the BJP. Now it is a competition between Congress workers in Amethi and Wayanad as to who will ensure more votes to him," he said.
"The canals were built in the area during Indiraji's term. She travelled across the district to ensure that the farmers don't sleep hungry."
"The villages were connected with roads by Rajiv Gandhi," said Mahendra Nath Dubey, a resident of Korwa village. He added that the road was full of potholes three years ago, but Rahul Gandhi got it repaired.
"Our village got its identity from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) factory. Who brought it here? It was Congress and Rajiv Gandhi's vision," said Almin Khan of Baraulia village.
Ali Sher, a resident of Musafirkhana, said: "This will remain a VIP seat till the time it is represented by the Gandhi family. We don't want to lose it by voting for the BJP."
"The Congress has given a lot to Amethi -- schools, colleges, the fertiliser factory, the Ordnance factory, the Rail Neer plant, the SAIL plant and many other government projects," said Syed Iqbal Haider, a social activist.
Haider said: "In 2014, Smriti Irani raised the 'VIP versus the common man' parallel. But after she became a minister, she also started behaving like a VIP with us."
Irani promised to provide hand pumps to many people but could not fulfill her promise, said Shiv Kumar Pandey, a resident of the Musafirkhana area.
However, there were some Irani supporters as well. Shyam Maurya from Pipraula Thakur village said that he will back the BJP in these elections because a lot of development has taken place under the Narendra Modi government.
"The BJP brought to our village the common service kiosk, because of which I don't have to go to bank, 5 kms away," he said.
Another resident said that Pipraula Thakur had become a digital village due to Irani's efforts. Shyam Singh said, "Now my grandson and granddaughter know how to use internet on the mobile phone."
Amethi has remained a Congress bastion since 1980. It was first represented by Sanjay Gandhi, the younger son of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. After his death in 1981 in a plane crash, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi represented the seat till 1991.
Congress' Satish Sharma retained Amethi till 1996 but lost it to BJP's Sanjay Singh in 1998. However, former Congress President Sonia Gandhi won back the seat in 1999.
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