Rahul up against his ’04 record
Busy spearheading the Congress campaign across the country, confident his work in Amethi would speak for itself, Rahul touched base with his voters only last Sunday, in a whirlwind tour across all the five assembly segments, Umesh Raghuvanshi reports.india Updated: Apr 23, 2009 01:16 IST
Rahul Gandhi campaigned in Amethi for just one day.
Busy spearheading the Congress campaign across the country, confident his work in Amethi would speak for itself, Rahul touched base with his voters only last Sunday, in a whirlwind tour across all the five assembly segments.
“I feel bad I could be with you for only one day, but I have commitments elsewhere,” he declared at each of his meetings.
A second, recurring theme at these meetings was how hamstrung he was in carrying out developmental projects in Amethi, due to the hostile attitude of the state government. “Unlike my father when he was MP from here and had Congress governments to support him both in the Centre and at the state, I have to work with one hand tied behind my back,” he repeatedly said.
His aides distributed a brochure at each meeting listing all that he had done for Amethi. In his speeches Rahul harped only on those projects he had not been able to see through, explaining why.
His opponents too insisted his record was nothing to tom-tom. “Amethi is being cheated,” said Pradeep Singh, BJP candidate. “Look how bad the roads are. Look at the long power cuts. People here want a change.” Mayawati herself campaigning for her BSP candidate said both Amethi and Sonia Gandhi’s constituency Rae Bareli had not seen the development they should have.
The power supply is no doubt erratic, the roads are indeed in bad shape. But some projects have materialised — Malvika Steels for instance, which is being revived with the support of the Steel Authority of India.
Rahul countered his rivals’ accusations strongly. “Amethi has developed only because many projects here are taken care of by the Central government,” he said.
He also insisted he was not asking the people of Amethi to vote for him. “I seek your love, not your votes,” he said to thunderous applause.
Local Congressmen maintain that whatever Rahul’s record, his victory is a foregone conclusion. Their success or failure will be judged not by whether Rahul wins, but by his margin of victory. In 2004, he defeated his nearest rival, the BJP’s Chandra Prakash Mishra by around 3 lakh votes.
This time they must increase the margin. Indeed sister Priyanka campaigning in Amethi earlier had urged voters to ensure that Rahul wins by a bigger margin than his mother Sonia in neighbouring Rae Bareli.