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After Amethi, BJP tries to get foothold in Rae Bareli

BJP plans to strengthen its organisational base in the Gandhi pocket borough ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

india Updated: Oct 11, 2018 08:49 IST
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
BJP,Lok Sabha elections 2019,Amethi
Both Rae Bareli and Amethi are considered bastions of the Gandhi family, while the BJP has been making consistent efforts to get a foothold in the region.(HT File Photo/Representative image)

The Bharatiya Janata Party is making fresh efforts to make inroads into Rae Bareli, the parliamentary seat of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, as the party steps up preparations for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

After Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah’s announcement on April 21, 2018 at a rally in Rae Bareli to end ‘parivarvaad’ (dynastic rule) and usher in ‘vikasvaad’ (development) in the constituency, union finance minister Arun Jaitley has decided to spend his MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund in Rae Bareli.

Shah’s rally was organised to induct Congress MLC Dinesh Pratap Singh along with his family members and other leaders into the BJP and the move was considered the first step of the BJP’s plans to strengthen its organisational base in the Gandhi pocket borough ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Jaitley’s decision too seems driven by the same objective.

“Arun Jaitley is Rajya Sabha MP from UP. The Congress has failed to bring about development to Rae Bareli. Other BJP MPs are spending their respective MPLAD funds in their constituencies. As the BJP does not have a MP from the constituency, a decision to spend Jaitley’s MPLAD fund in Rae Bareli has been taken. The move will certainly help the BJP in strengthening the party’s organisation in Rae Bareli,” said senior BJP leader Ajay Agarwal, who contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election against Sonia Gandhi from Rae Bareli.

The Congress doesn’t think much of the idea. It says the people of the constituency are aware of the work done by Gandhi for Rae Bareli and that it is the BJP has blocked development there.

“The BJP has stalled development of Rae Bareli by not implementing the UPA government’s development projects worth crores in the constituency in the past four-and-half years. So, allocation of Rs 5 crore MPLAD fund in one year will make no difference,” said Sonia Gandhi’s Lok Sabha representative KL Sharma.

The Congress MLA from Rae Bareli Aditi Singh echoed these sentiments.

“The BJP is trying to fool the people of Rae Bareli. Had the BJP been serious about development of Rae Bareli, it would have done so in the past four-and-half years.

“Even the defections being engineered by the BJP will not make any difference. Sonia Gandhi will win the poll with a greater margin this time,” said Aditi Singh.

Congress MLC Dinesh Singh and his brother, Rae Bareli district panchayat president Awadhesh Singh, had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party earlier this year .

Both Rae Bareli and Amethi are considered bastions of the Gandhi family, while the BJP has been making consistent efforts to get a foothold in the region.

In the 2014 polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party made a strong push in Amethi and fielded now union minister Smriti Irani. Since that election, which the BJP lost, several BJP leaders including Irani have made repeated visits to Amethi. The focus on Rae Bareli, though, is more recent.

“Rae Bareli and Amethi have been weak areas for the BJP. The party should have worked for development of the two constituencies in past four and half years. The decision to allocate MPLAD fund at this stage will only remain an electoral announcement and people of Rae Bareli realise this,” said SK Dwivedi, former head of department political science, Lucknow University.

First Published: Oct 11, 2018 08:14 IST