A cloud of dust greets one while travelling on the badly maintained or ‘half-constructed’ roads in Amethi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi that goes to the polls on Wednesday.
A large chunk of major roads have been re-laid recently or are still under construction. But the rural roads are in bad shape. And that explains the dusty welcome.
A dismal power supply coupled with poor health, education and industrial infrastructure have been the bane of this constituency despite the boon of projects that are coming up or have come up in the past 10 years here.
Rahul’s political rivals have been targeting him and the Nehru-Gandhi family for what they call “utter neglect” of the constituency. The BJP’s video focusing on the region’s backwardness has brought into focus the issue of development.
During his campaign, Rahul listed the projects he has brought to the constituency. He often spoke about his dream of connecting Amethi with the rest of the world to ensure more jobs for the youth and better prices for the farmers for their produce. His sister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, has described her brother as a ‘visionary’ like her father, the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who, she said, was targeted in the same manner when he brought the telecom and the information technology revolutions to India.
Amid such claims and counter-claims, a visit to the constituency indicates that Amethi may be in a transitional phase with the benefits of development projects yet to percolate to the grassroots and the major projects lined up for the constituency yet to take shape.
To counter the claims of the opposition, the Congress brought out a four-page booklet titled A Decade of Development in Amethi, that gives details of the new projects, roads, railway facilities and the use of MP Local Area Development Fund in the constituency in the past 10 years.
“Amethi is the most developed among the rural constituencies. It began from point zero. It has a large number of major industries, including the BHEL and SAIL units,” said local Congress leader Deepak Singh. All the rural households have been covered under the rural electrification programme. Locals know about the development that has taken place here but outsiders talk about backwardness,” he said.