Rahul Gandhi seeks to renew ties with Amethi, targets PM Modi

Rahul Gandhi leads a nearly six km foot march from Jagdishpur to Harimau in Amethi constituency as part of the party’s Pratigya Yatra
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Amethi on Saturday. (PTI Photo)
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Amethi on Saturday. (PTI Photo)
Updated on Dec 18, 2021 11:54 PM IST
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By, Amethi

Signalling the start of efforts to reclaim the party bastion, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday renewed his family’s ties with the people of Amethi while launching his party’s campaign for the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls. He used the occasion to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi and accused him of misleading the people over the years.

Rahul Gandhi, who led a nearly six-km foot march from Jagdishpur to Harimau in Amethi constituency as part of the BJP Bhagao-Mahangai Hatao Pratigya Yatra, connected with the people to give a push to efforts to reclaim Amethi that he had lost to Union minister Smriti Irani in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Rahul Gandhi had won from Wayanad in Kerala from where he had simultaneously contested from.

Accompanied by his sister Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Rahul Gandhi frequently referred to his family’s close ties with the people of Amethi. Both Rahul and Priyanka went down memory lane to remind people about their connection and how they used to visit local villages and meet people as children with their father former Prime Minister the late Rajiv Gandhi. “Our relationship will continue longer and longer,” he said amid applause from the audience.

“Priyanka Gandhi Vadra came to me a few days ago and asked me to visit Lucknow for a meeting. I told my sister that I will visit my home (Amethi) before going to Lucknow. I wanted to speak to my family… you elected me for the first time in 2004,” Rahul Gandhi said. Both of them referred to the network of roads and the development projects that the Congress-led regimes developed in the constituency.

Rahul Gandhi alleged the PM Modi spoke lies to the people as he only has a political relationship with the people here. He questioned the PM for bathing in the Ganga in Varanasi alone.

The Congress leader said millions of Hindus take bath together and this was for the first time that he saw anybody bathing alone.

Ahead of the inauguration of the first phase of the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor in Varanasi on December 13, the Prime Minister had taken a dip in the Ganga.

The Congress leader listed a number of instances to differentiate Hindus from ‘Hinduwadis’ and said a Hindu would never lie while Modi did not speak the truth.

Rahul Gandhi also alleged the three farm laws were brought to benefit some industrialist friends of the PM. As the UP elections were inching close, the PM said sorry, the Congress leader claimed.

“This was not a mistake. This was done to benefit some industrialists,” he alleged. The farm laws have been repealed by Parliament.

As he was about to begin his foot march, Rahul took a dig at the electronic media saying, “My address will be shown for 30 seconds only. If the PM gives such a speech, they (media) will run the same for six months.”

Priyanka questioned Union minister Smriti Irani for not coming forward to help the people when they were stuck at different places following Covid-19 lockdown. She also questioned the PM for using an official plane. She listed all the promises that the Congress has so far made to the people and said the Congress brought major PSUs like BHEL and SAIL, while other projects like mega food park could not be launched in the constituency following change of the UPA government. A large crowd was seen on both sides of the road along the 6km route of the foot march from Jagdishpur to Harimau.

Meanwhile, Congress and BJP workers came face to face over setting up of a BJP hoarding on the padyatra route. BJP workers raised slogans against Rahul and Priyanka, while the Congress workers countered them with slogans of their own, saying the ruling party should not misuse the administration for political purposes.

The Congress does not have any representation on any of five assembly seats in Amethi. By reconnecting with the people, the party leaders hope to gain some ground in the 2022 assembly polls and pave the way for reclaiming the Gandhi family’s bastion in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Senior BJP leader Uma Shankar Pandey alleged people had been brought from outside Amethi for the foot march. He also said Congress leaders from other districts too had come to Amethi to meet Priyanka and Rahul. The crowd at the foot march would make no difference in 2022 or 2024 polls, he added.

Union minister Smriti Irani said the Congress leaders had to “get people from Lucknow and Chhattisgarh” which “speaks volumes about their relationship” with her constituency, according to an agency report.

“Today the siblings were in Amethi. They had to amass crowd from Lucknow, Sant Kabir Nagar and Chhattisgarh... someone had to burn a lot of fuel… The fact that you (Nehru-Gandhi family) were in a constituency for 50 years and have to drive 50 people from Lucknow to Amethi speaks volumes about them and their relationship with my constituency. That ‘yatra’ is going nowhere,” Irani said when asked about the foot march in Amethi at the launch of her novel ‘Lal Salaam’.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Umesh Raghuvanshi is a journalist with over three decade experience. He covers politics, finance, environment and social issues. He has covered all assembly and parliament elections in Uttar Pradesh since 1984.

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