Smriti visits Amethi, Congress calls it ‘political tourism’
Union minister for Women and Child Development (WCD) Smriti Irani arrived in her Lok Sabha (LS) constituency Amethi on Tuesday amid the rival Congress’s barbs of “political tourism”.
Irani plans to announce several projects for her constituency, which used to be a Gandhi family’s pocket borough for years until she wrested the prestigious seat from Rahul Gandhi in last year’s parliamentary polls, during the festive season.
This is her first visit to Amethi since the coronavirus disease (Covid-19)-induced lockdown restrictions, which were enforced from the end of March in a bid to keep the viral infection at bay.
The Congress is aiming to expose her “absence” from Amethi since she was elected to the LS from the prestigious seat last year.
Irani pounced on former Madhya Pradesh (MP) chief minister Kamal Nath’s “item” jibe and packaged it as a proof of the “Congress culture to insult women”.
“It’s true that the head of a political party (Rahul and Sonia Gandhi) has been doing politics in Amethi-Rae Bareli for years but it’s a matter of great satisfaction for me that we are living up to the expectations of the people through hard work in these places,” she said.
Rahul Gandhi had represented Amethi in the LS for three consecutive terms since 2004. While his mother Sonia Gandhi has also been representing Rae Bareli, the only surviving Congress bastion in Uttar Pradesh (UP), in the lower House of Parliament since 2004.
Irani responded to the Congress’s truant barb and listed a series of works initiated by her in a bid to help the voters in her constituency.
“I ran an e-choupal programme and redressed around 1,900 complaints of the public,” she said while accusing the Congress leadership of “usurping the land of farmers”.
“The Congress must first return the land to farmers that it has captured. The land was grabbed in the name of setting up a factory,” she said to a question, seeking her response to Rahul Gandhi’s allegation of misuse of state-run agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Front (NDA) government.
She claimed that 22 development projects were launched in the Salon area of her constituency and all of them would be completed on time. She also reviewed the ongoing development projects.
She also launched several health and wellness projects for her constituency and inaugurated a cow shelter before leaving for Tiloi.
Deepak Singh, a Congress member of the UP legislative council (MLC), took potshots at her visit.
He alleged that she escaped to Amethi in a bid to avoid embarrassing questions that were being raised ahead of the three-phase Bihar elections.
“The visit is a cover-up. It is nothing but political tourism. It is aimed more at ensuring that embarrassing queries don’t come her way during the Bihar poll campaign, where she might have been quizzed about her prolonged absence from her LS constituency. She is aware that the ‘missing MP’ posters have come up in the constituency and even her own party workers have been looking for her,” Singh alleged.
“I shall share the details of how many hours she has spent in the constituency by the time her visit ends,” he further alleged.