LUCKNOW: It turned out to be an anti-climax for the political observers anticipating face-off between of two political titans – Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani -- in Amethi on Friday.
The possibility of a face off lessened in the morning itself when the Congress chief and Amethi MP changed his programme, scheduled for morning, to the evening and cancelling it finally. The face-off, though, was averted, but Smirti Irani set the tone for 2019 elections by launching a broadside on the Congress chief even claiming that he was losing his ground in Amethi.
“Rahul Gandhi 2019 Lok Sabha chunav Amethi se nahi jeet sakenge (Rahul Gandhi will not be able to win 2019 election from Amethi).” She added that after 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Congress had lost all the local elections and all five assembly segments in 2017 state polls. She was interacting with the media persons during her visit to the high profile parliamentary constituency.
On a day when Supreme Court of India yet again deferred hearing in vexed Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title issue to January 10, the union minister trained guns at the Congress and blamed it for "creating hurdle" in the judicial process in the Ram temple case through its lawyers.
"Congress is doing politics over the case. Its leaders, as lawyers, are creating hurdle in the court. People should ask the Congress chief if he wore 'janeu' (sacred thread) only for polls in three states," she said. Reacting to Rahul Gandhi’s statement that Ram Temple would not be the part of narrative for 2019 elections, Irani said: “Congress ke liye woh mudda ho bhi nahi sakta. Woh parivar Bhagwan Ram ke astitva ko manta hi nahi hai. Tabhi Congress sarkar ne adalat mein affidavit bhi diya thha ki bhagwan Ram thhe hi nahi. Humare liye woh humari astha ka prashna hai (For them it could not be an issue as that family doesn’t believe in the identity of Lord Ram. That’s why Congress government had given affidavit in the court. For us it is a matter of our faith),” she reasoned.
Irani further added: “Janeudhari sirf chunav ke samai hi dikhte hain. Poori janata unke Hindutva ke dhong ko dekh rahi hai (they wear the scared thread during polls only. People are watching their fake Hindutva).” She took a jibe at Gandhi scion for delaying his visit to Amethi by saying that the fact that could not keep his date with his constituency reflected why he could not deliver timely solutions (to problems). Rahul Gandhi had rescheduled his visit on Thursday night.
He was expected to arrive in Lucknow at 10 am on Friday but later he rescheduled it for 4:30 in the evening. Triggering speculations over her candidature again from Amethi in 2019, Irani rejected the sobriquet – Gandhi parivar ka gadh (Gandhi bastion) — used for Amethi, saying it should be now known as ‘Vikas ka gadh (bastion of development)’.
“The development done by the BJP government in the constituency during the last five years is forcing Rahul Gandhi to visit it frequently,” she claimed. Maine yahan ki janata se do hi vaade kiye the – vikas aur Rahul Gandhi ke darshan – aur main dono vaade poore kiye (I had made two promises – development and increase in frequency of Rahul gandhi’s visits—I have fulfilled both),” she averred.
Irani had contested from Amethi in 2014 and had shrunk the victory margin of Congress scion considerably from over 3 lakh votes to just one lakh. The percentage of Rahul Gandhi’s victory margin slid down from 57 per cent in 2009 to 12 per cent in 2014. Since then, Irani has been active in Amethi and making inroads into Congress bastion by nurturing it with strong development push.
“Aazadi ke baad Amethi main pehla CT Scan Centre aana apne aap mein is baat ka sanket hai ki Rahul Gandhi ke Lok Sabha kshetra mein vikas ke haalaat kitne kharab the, 15 saal tak jo saansad rahe vo ek CT scan centre nahi khulwa paye garibo ke liye (After independence, first CT scan centre in Amethi is coming now. This shows how bad is development scenario in Rahul Gandhi’s constituency),” said the union minister.
On being prepared to lock horns once again with Rahul Gandhi in the upcoming general election, Irani said it would be decided by the party leadership but struck an emotional chord with people of Amethi saying: “Main yahan BJP ki pratyashi bankar aye thhi, aaj didi banker yahin rah gayee hoon (I had come here as BJP candidiate and have stayed with people as their elder sister),” said an inimitable Irani.
Reacting to the posters in Amethi claiming Rahul Gandhi as next PM, Irani said: Rahul Gandhi ko mahagathbandhan main is tarah ka aashirvaad na Mayawati se prapt hua hai, na Akhilesh se hua hai, na Mamata se hua hai,toh Mungerilal ke sapne dekhne hain toh kisne mana kiya hai (Neither Mayawati, nor Akhilesh, nor even Mamta Banerjee have supported Rahul Gandhi for the post.
Who can stop him if he wants to do day dreaming).” Smirti Irani attended a programme organised by Raghav Sewa Sansthan during which blankets and financial assistance were extended to needy people and a foundation stone for a school was also laid. She also inaugurated a CT Scan centre at the Gauriganj district hospital.