Backed by Sangh Parivar, TV’s ‘super bahu’ dazzles Rae Bareli
Gandhi family bastion, Amethi, is most likely to remain one. But by the time the last voter here would have cast her vote on May 7, Smriti Zubin Irani would have somewhat shaken and stirred Rahul Gandhi's constituency.india Updated: Apr 18, 2014 00:06 IST
Gandhi family bastion, Amethi, is most likely to remain one. But by the time the last voter here would have cast her vote on May 7, Smriti Zubin Irani, 38, would have somewhat shaken and stirred Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's constituency.
SK Shukla, a stationary shop-owner in Amethi's Gauriganj area sums up the sentiment: "Many won't be able to even recall the name of the BJP candidate who lost his deposit in 2009. But this time it's different. Win or not, Smriti has a recall value."
Some of that recall is due to the BJP vice-president's Star 'super bahu' past, but most of it has been earned of post-serial political head-banging.
And the Congress recognises it. So, party chief and Rahul's mother Sonia Gandhi would come calling on Saturday. "There are reports that Congress may rush in other top leaders. But we are better prepared," said a senior BJP leader in Lucknow.
The Sangh Parivar, meanwhile, is busy finalising meetings of its top leaders on the Gandhi turf.
Party's PM candidate Narendra Modi may address a public meeting in Gauriganj on May 4, say sources.
Ahead of Modi, 400 'nukkad tolis' (street campaigners) have already arrived to boost the saffron campaign.
Pradeep Kumar Singh, the 2009 BJP candidate who polled 37, 570 votes against Rahul's 4,64,195 was present at Smriti's impressive nomination on Wednesday. "Smritiji will give Congress a tough fight."
He probably meant the margin of defeat would be more respectful this time.
Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad member Madhav Bajpai adds, "This time history would be made here," and qualifies it with, "It would be the best ever BJP show here in more than a decade".
The saffron think-tank has deployed seven GPRS-studded NaMo chariots through which the party plans to telecast recorded speeches of Modi, especially in rural areas.
"Modiji's presence is sure to boost our campaign," says district BJP chief Daya Shankar, who claims the party has got a psychological edge over the Congress after the nomination.
Besides Modi, the party is also expected to get its firebrand and articulate women leaders, Sushma Swaraj and Uma Bharti to campaign in each of the five assembly segments of Amethi.
Party patriarch LK Advani, Yoga guru Ramdev and former army chief-turned-BJP candidate from Ghaziabad General VK Singh might also campaign here.
"The choice of leaders isn't accidental. It's tactical, as all of them are known Congress baiters," said a senior BJP leader.
Parachuting Rahul's cousin, Varun Gandhi from his safe nook in Terai's Pilibhit to Amethi's twin Sultanpur has added to the Congress' conundrum.
On her part, Smriti arrived here on April 7, soon after her name was announced. Seen with her husband Zubin Faredoon Irani at her nomination, she even coined her own slogan: 'Modi PM, Kamal nishaan, maang raha hai Hindustan'.
She has also been asking Rahul a question every day.
Asked earlier if she would take a break from campaign, Smriti told HT, "No break. I am here to stay."
Win or lose, it's a win-win situation for Smriti in BJP.