NEW DELHI: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday did not turn up in his parliamentary constituency Amethi where polling was on along with 50 other Lok Sabha seats across seven states in the fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections.
Gandhi was busy in a public rally in Haryana's Bhiwani while voting was on in his own constituency which has sent him to the Lok Sabha thrice before - in 2004, 2009 and 2014. The Congress President is scheduled to participate in a public meeting in Delhi's Sadar Bazar area in the evening.
This is for the fourth time that Gandhi is contesting from Amethi, which was among the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh that went to the polls in the fifth phase on Monday. Justifying Gandhi's absence, a Congress member said on condition of anonymity that Gandhi was first the President of the party before being an MP from Amethi, and that he was responsible for major party activities across the country.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union Minister Smriti Irani, who has been pitted against Gandhi from Amethi, called the Congress President "laapata sansad" (missing MP), pointing out that the sitting MP did not visit the constituency even on polling day.
She told reporters that Gandhi has cheated the people of Amethi on election day. "I didn't know that he (Gandhi) could be so arrogant that he won't turn up in Amethi even on the polling day," she said also alleging booth capturing in her constituency.
Gandhi and Irani are locked in a direct contest after the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance did not field a candidate from Amethi. Gandhi is also contesting from Kerala's Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency, which went to the polls in the third phase on April 23.
Amethi, a Gandhi family stronghold, witnessed one of the most high-profile contests in 2014 when Gandhi defeated Irani by more than one lakh votes. The Congress President has retained the seat ever since his mother Sonia Gandhi vacated it for him in 2004.