NEW DELHI: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is currently in Gujarat, traditionally, a Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) fortress (read: Prime Minister Narendra Modi was formerly the chief minister here), making a strong case for his party and targetting the state government's policies.
While, BJP chief Amit Shah, Union Minister Smriti Irani and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath are in Amethi, a Congress bastion, washing off the grand old party's claims of developments there.
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In the run up to the assembly elections in Gujarat later this year, or early next year and the general elections in 2019, the Congress and the BJP, thus, seemed to have changed places, perhaps the targets.
Rahul Gandhi, who alleged that he was recently denied entry into his own constituency, Amethi, chose Gujarat for a four-phase tour to cover all regions of the state prior to the assembly elections.
The Congress MLAs in Gujarat had alleged the state BJP of horse trading ahead of the assembly elections, which the saffron party outrightly denied.
Rahul has been claiming small victories in the form of jibes targetted at Amit Shah's controversy-ridden son Jay Shah, calling him 'the icon of start up India', and the 'only beneficiary of the demonetisation drive'.
When Rahul commented on the development in Gujarat, saying that 'vikas' (development in Hindi) had gone berserk due to listening to constant lies, likening development to a person, Irani, in one of her addresses in Amethi, said 'vikas' was not something that should be ridiculed; rather, it should be accepted and appreciated.
Rahul also said that the Gujarat Government had majorly failed to provide basic facilities of education and sanitation to the people of the state. He also lashed out at the Modi government for making “profit the focus of educational institutions.”
Reports have said the visit of the senior BJP leaders to the Congress bastion was aimed at sending a message that the current dispensation believed in an all-round development and was not meting out "step-motherly treatment" to a Congress constituency.
During the current visit, Irani has also claimed that visits by her and senior BJP leaders had ensured that the people of the district saw more of the Congress vice-president.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Amethi had seen a high-pitched electoral battle between Rahul Gandhi and Smriti Irani.
She might have lost, but not before ensuring to reduce the Congress leader's victory margin 1.07 lakh (the margin was more than 3.70 lakh votes in 2009).
The war of words is expected to intensify in the aftermath of the local Congress leader of Amethi Jang Bahadur Singh announcing his decision to join the BJP, just a day ahead of Amit Shah's visit to the Lok Sabha constituency.
In 2017 UP Assembly elections, the BJP had won six of the 10 Assembly seats falling under the Amethi and Rae Bareli parliamentary constituencies. Four of these were in Amethi.