On Rahul Gandhi’s Wayanad nomination, Smriti Irani raises pitch in Amethi
Union minister Smriti Irani reached Amethi hours before Congress president Rahul Gandhi filed his nomination papers from Wayanad in Kerala, the second constituency he is contesting in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Gandhi has been a three-time sitting Lok Sabha MP from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
Irani accused the Congress chief of “betraying Amethi” during her visit to the Lok Sabha constituency, where she arrived by road after paying visits to the BJP and RSS offices in Lucknow.
Watch: ‘Amethi abandoned’: Smriti’s charge as Rahul Gandhi files nomination from Wayanad
It was her first visit to Amethi since she was nominated by the BJP as its candidate against Gandhi for the second consecutive time. She had lost to Gandhi in 2014 elections.
The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have decided against putting up a candidate in both Amethi and Rae Bareli. But BJP is exuding confidence saying that Irani has a better chance of winning Amethi seat. The party says that despite having lost the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Irani has stood with the people of this constituency visiting here more than 20 times since 2014.
“My party leadership has sent me to empower Amethi whose MP ruined it completely. After using Amethi to enjoy power for 15 years, the MP is now leaving it for another LS constituency. Amethi won’t tolerate this deceit, insult and injustice,” Smriti said.
Top BJP leaders including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have been engaging in posturing, claiming that the BJP would add Amethi and Azamgarh to its 2014 tally of seats from UP this time.
Irani appealed to the people of Wayanad to visit Amethi to have a look at the ‘lack of development’ in Amethi, which she claimed, was the reason for Congress chief to feel uncertain in Amethi.
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had during an election rally in Wardha, Maharashtra on Monday, took potshots at Gandhi’s candidature from Wayanad. PM Modi said some Opposition leaders had decided to flee to a “minority dominated” seat to escape the wrath of Hindu community.
He has also held a rally in Amethi and party leaders say the BJP could again get its top campaigner to visit this Congress bastion before it votes in the fifth phase of elections on May 6.
The BJP has consistently targeted Gandhi for opting to contest from a second seat outside Uttar Pradesh, where the Congress is busy galvanising its cadre through newly appointed general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who accompanied the party president in Wayanad. Priyanka Gandhi had visited Amethi last week.
Priyanka Gandhi has accused PM Modi and the BJP leaders of “spreading lies” but Irani said the poor development of Amethi is proof of how the constituency that sent leaders from Nehru-Gandhi family to the Lok Sabha remained neglected.
UP minister Mohsin Raza, who accompanied Irani on her Amethi visit, alleged that by deciding to contest from Wayanad, Gandhi has shunned his old constituency.
Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who hails from Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur in Amethi’s neighbourhood, too targeted Gandhi saying the Congress president’s Wayanad nomination is an attempt to communally polarise the electorates.
Vijay Kishore Tiwari, who had contested 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls from Amethi’s Gauriganj seat as a Bahujan Samaj Party candidate joined the BJP in Irani’s presence on Thursday.
The BSP, the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal are contesting the Lok Sabha polls together as part of the grand-alliance in the state. The grand-alliance has decided not to field candidates from Amethi and Rae Bareli constituencies, represented by Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi respectively.