In Amethi, anger is best managed by promising “change”. In Gauriganj, where many symbolic battles begin with a roadshow, AAP convener and former Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal not only wooed the crowds but also shot his trademark warning-laden arrows in different directions.
The first set of barbs were thrown at Congress president Sonia Gandhi. “The Congress’ heartbeat is increasing. The biggest proof is Soniaji’s trip to Amethi after 14 years. Vouch for it, Rahulji is all set to lose by a margin of 2 lakh votes,” he said.
The next set of barbs, more piercing in nature, was sent towards the BJP prime ministerial candidate and his opponent in Varanasi, Narendra Modi. “The days of the BJP are numbered. Their end is near. The BJP will disappear after Narendra Modi loses in Varanasi.”
The tone of his speech sounded familiar. “The Gandhi family is engaged in corruption at the Centre. It has followers in Amethi who are corrupt.”
And he didn’t spare Sheila Dikshit either. Thus went a slogan: “Abhi to Sheila haari hai,ab Rahul ki baari hai (We defeated Sheila, Now it’s Rahul’s turn)
Locals in Gauriganj say anger against Rahul’s “apathy” towards his constituency was building. Paan farmer Rakesh Chaurasia recalled an incident: “I told him that apathy is not acceptable. We told him ‘you come in a car and wave at us, that’s all you do’. He looked surprised and asked me why I was so angry. Villagers told him that the Congress’ days in Amethi were numbered.”
Rahul’s AAP contender Kumar Vishwas, who has been camping in the constituency four months now, has had a healing effect on the people of Gauriganj. But the pacifiers, the villagers believe, won’t last forever.
Kejriwal projected Vishwas as a leader people could touch and feel. “All these years you have seen leaders who are distant and protected by black cats. Kumar Vishwas is one among you.”
For Ramlalli, a 25-year-old mother of three who owns a small shop, the roadshow is a good opportunity to earn some money. “Women in Gauriganj won’t tell you about their political affiliations,” she said.
According to Chandrakant Tiwari, 29, who shifted loyalties to the AAP last year after feeling “disgruntled, disillusioned and disappointed” by the party he once loved, Vishwas is the epitome of truth.
“Kumar bhaiya is honest. This is a good thing and it’s the best thing about him. There were so many things we didn’t know about how the Congress fooled poor people like us. Today, we are aware. All thanks to Kumar bhaiya,” he said. “Every time when there is an emergency, we have to rush to either to Rae Bareli or Lucknow for treatment and medical aid. Is this what the Gandhis had done for Amethi?”
At his roadshow, Kejriwal, accompanied by Vishwas and party leader Somnath Bharti, made electoral forecasts which earned him showers of rose petals. “The next government will wind up in one year. Then, honest people will go to Parliament.” However, not everyone is amused. Said Harikesh, a driver: “One factor working against Kejriwal is how he gave up the chance to work in Delhi. There is anger against the Congress among the people in Amethi. But it won’t translate into votes for his party.”