HT Interview: People of Amethi gave me much more than I asked for, says Kishori Lal Sharma | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

HT Interview: People of Amethi gave me much more than I asked for, says Kishori Lal Sharma

Jun 06, 2024 01:15 PM IST

Congress leader Kishori Lal Sharma reclaimed Amethi from Smriti Irani, highlighting her failures and promising to prioritize people's needs.

Congress leader Kishori Lal Sharma (62), who defeated Bharatiya Janata Party leader and two-time MP Smriti Irani by a margin of 167,196 votes from the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, spoke to Vrinda Tulsian about reclaiming a seat that was once his party’s stronghold, overcoming the apprehensions about his candidature and the plans ahead. Edited excerpts:

Rahul Gandhi with Kishori Lal Sharma (PTI)
Rahul Gandhi with Kishori Lal Sharma (PTI)

How do you feel after winning against a Union minister and a two-time MP?

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The public of Amethi have already given an answer to her [Smriti Irani] and she is smart enough to understand it. I can go on for hours about the pathetic condition she has left my dear Amethi, and its people, in. For example, village heads and chairmen are allocated funds for development works, regardless of which government is in power. She kept those funds for herself instead. Once in Parliament, she accused (former PM) Jawarhal Nehru, and the successive Congress governments, of not fulfilling the promise of constructing a railway line [in Amethi]. However, after being in power for 10 years, she says a railway line is “not feasible”... She and her beloved [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi ji talk about the Congress manifesto, but what about their manifesto — they have not delivered anything.

When you were fielded from Amethi, a lot of people said that the Congress has set you up for failure. And now, you have won by a margin of 170,000 votes.

This is not my win, it’s of the people of Amethi. I never thought that this was going to be a tough battle for me because I could see the hunger to win among party workers. Since the day my nomination was finalised, I’ve had zero doubts...I knew I would win and my party would win. But of course I did not think about such a landslide margin. The people of Amethi have given me much more than I asked for. I am very grateful.

How has your journey been with the Congress over the last four decades?

I have been with the Congress for 41 years. I was in the Youth Congress when I met Rajiv Gandhi in 1983, and started working for Amethi in 1987. Politics has undergone a dramatic transformation since then. Earlier, people were loyal to a party...for me, however, the party is like a mother.

What is your plan ahead?

We had two different plans, depending on the outcome of the elections. For now, I want to be with the people of Amethi, and take their suggestions for the future.

How was your meeting with the Congress leadership after the victory?

Sonia ji told me that I should not let the win and the position get to my head, like the people of other parties. I promised her that I will not. Then Rahul ji advised me to speak up and perform well in Parliament, while Priyanka ji asked me to ensure I visit my constituency frequently.

What do you think Rahul Gandhi will pick — Rae Bareli or Wayanad?

I am happy with whatever he chooses. I think it should be Rae Bareili since it has been his mother’s bastion, and before that it was led by Indira Gandhi and Feroze Gandhi... but I feel that is a decision for a family.  Even with Amethi, if they ask me to give it up in the future I am happy to because it is a Gandhi constituency.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not mention the Ram temple or the UP poll outcome yesterday.

Elections should be based on your work, not on religious issues. No one, of any religion or caste, should be targeted on these issues. Perhaps the poll outcome would have been different in the state had they focused on development work.But they kept changing their stance — from Ram’s name, to Muslim League. But people are not fools.

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