Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi speaks to the media in New Delhi. AP Photo/Pankaj Nangia
The writing was on the wall. Gandhis perhaps had read it but not the Congress party.
Priyanka Gandhi knocked at almost every door during her fortnight-long whirlwind tour of her family’s pocket borough Rae Bareli and Amethi, the two parliamentary seats that have remained with the Gandhi family since time immemorial.
But the people refused to get ‘emotionally blackmailed’ as they were starving for development. They were livid over the fact that the overconfident sitting MLAs, who owed their victory to the Gandhis, never visited their constituencies.
While Priyanka was campaigning, people were asking, “We supported the Congress in 2007 on her appeal, what did we get in return? Lodhi (the sitting MLA) never visited us, never raised our issues. Instead, he drove through our village with the tinted window panes of his car rolled up.”
“There were no inhibitions, no fears. The youngsters openly said we are demanding basics like water, electricity and road. We don’t get electricity in the village for months. Agreed, the Congress MLA was helpless in the BSP government, but he could have shown his concern.”
Some students had said, “We can study under a lamp, but what about our farming?” The common refrain across the 10 constituencies was, “We want to punish them.”
Rae Bareli is the Lok Sabha constituency of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Here, at a public rally, Priyanka had dramatically promised to gift all the 10 seats (five each in Amethi and Rae Bareli) to her mother. But it failed to move the voter. They rejected all the five Congress nominees on the five seats here. However, it does not signal trouble for Sonia or Rahul, as the voters have decided that they will support the Gandhis in the Lok Sabha and in the Vidhan Sabha, the party is likely to come to power.
But then as Priyanka said, “The defeat here causes political embarrassment. It sends a wrong message to the entire country.”
In fact, Priyanka’s plea for support did not cut ice with the voter as they never saw the Congress as a claimant of power in UP.
Seven of the 10 seats went to the Samajwadi Party, the frontrunner. One Rae Bareli seat (Sadar) went to Akhilesh Singh (Peace Party) because
of his personal clout. Here Singh’s ‘personal favours’ worked more than the ‘emotional bonding’ with the Gandhis. He holds eye camps, financially supports weddings in poor families, gives away buffaloes, etc.
However, Amita Singh’s defeat in Amethi came as a shocker. She is the wife of Sanjay Singh, the Sultanpur MP, who has a traditional hold over the area.
The Congress had won seven out of the 10 seats in 2007. This time it will end up with two. People love to flaunt their special status but their thirst for development had become acute.