Lok Sabha elections 2019: Why is BJP strident on Amethi but soft on Rae Bareli?
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath is confident that the BJP will win the Gandhi stronghold of Amethi in the upcoming elections but is silent on Rae Bareli from where Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi will be in the fray for the fifth time.
After entering active politics, she was first elected from her family stronghold of Amethi in 1999. She moved to Rae Bareli in 2004.
Why is BJP silent and staying away from this constituency? Is it because the BJP, which has made dynastic politics a major tool to embarrass the Gandhis and the Yadavs of the North, is only targeting Congress president Rahul Gandhi or have they given up claim on the seat before even putting up a good fight?
The prime constituency in the country, though synonymous with the Gandhis, had created history of sorts by defeating Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and electing socialist leader Raj Narain.
The seriousness with which the BJP has taken their fight to Amethi is clear from the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already addressed a rally in Rahul’s constituency.
Unlike in Amethi where the BJP had fielded a strong candidate against Rahul in 2014, the party had chosen a dummy, Ajay Agarwal, who had fought a lonely battle in Rae Bareli after his tireless struggle for the ticket.
His claim to fame is the persistence with which he has been pursuing the Bofors case in the Supreme Court.
Is it political courtesy? Perhaps not, as there is no love lost between the BJP high command and the Gandhis, engaged in #Chowkidar campaign by the former and ‘Chowkidar chor hai’ by the latter.
The fact is that the confidence with which the BJP claims it will win Amethi somehow disappears when it comes to Rae Bareli, only a few kilometres away. Even chief minister Yogi Adityanath is silent on winning Rae Bareli while claiming to wrest away Amethi and Azamgarh from the Congress and the Samajwadi Party.
Ajay Agarwal, who had polled barely 1,73,721 votes against 5,26,436 votes polled in Sonia’s favour had again staked his claim on the seat. In a letter written to party president Amit Shah, he had even warned loss of Vaish votes if he was denied a ticket.
Interestingly, he had started campaigning in the area though the party had not announced his name. Eventually, his claim was turned down and Dinesh Pratap Singh, a Congress MLC who joined the BJP in 2018, was fielded though his rivals had been raising his shady past to scuttle the ticket.
Singh is hardly a match to Sonia Gandhi as people rise above caste and communal lines to vote for her. BJP’s seriousness to defeat her will be further known by the star campaigners who will be sent here to campaign. Will the Prime Minister hold a rally here?
Rae Bareli perhaps is the only constituency in the country that has elected a galaxy of high profile MPs – Jawaharlal Nehru, his son-in-law Feroze Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.
Though people complain about poor development of the area since non-Congress governments were formed in the state, professor of sociology Dr Uday Bhan Singh says, “Local issues figure in state assembly elections only. However, Sonia Gandhi will win hands down in the Lok Sabha polls irrespective of the brouhaha created by the BJP or the candidate fielded by them.”
Since 2007 assembly polls, the Congress has been losing elections in the assembly segments of Rae Bareli. In 2012 assembly polls, despite Priyanka’s extensive campaign in her mother’s Lok Sabha constituency, Congress had lost in all the five assembly segments.
People were miffed with the high-browed MLAs, who they felt served the Gandhis and not the voters.
In fact, Priyanka herself had admitted the political embarrassment caused by the defeat of Congress candidates as it also sent a wrong message to the entire country.
There are countless stories about VIP treatment given to them in Delhi darbar since the days of Indira Gandhi.
People recall how they used to rub shoulders with Congress chief ministers like ND Tiwari, Vir Bahadur Singh and VP Singh during Indira’s days as they frequently visited Rae Bareli, so much so that a cabinet meeting was also held here once.
Sonia carried on the legacy but did not accede personal favours.
By the time she became a member of parliament, the first time from Rae Bareli in 2004, a hostile government was in office in the state.
Obviously, the chief ministers did not respond to personal requests with the same alacrity with which the directives of Indira Gandhi’s local manager Yashpal Kapoor were carried out in a Congress government. But as people here say with confidence that in the Lok Sabha election with Sonia in the fray, the opposition will contest here to simply save the deposit.