Priyanka Gandhi makes pitch to reclaim family turf

With elections two days away, enthusiasm among the Congress workers was palpable as the cavalcade of the Congress general secretary reached Amethi to hold a roadshow along with Sharma.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra made her final pitch for Congress candidate Kishori Lal Sharma who is locked in a fierce battle against Union minister and BJP’s incumbent MP Smriti Irani.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra made her final pitch for Congress candidate Kishori Lal Sharma who is locked in a fierce battle against Union minister and BJP’s incumbent MP Smriti Irani. Photo | PTI

NEW DELHI: As the campaign for the phase five of the Lok Sabha elections ended on Saturday evening, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra made her final pitch for Congress candidate Kishori Lal Sharma who is locked in a fierce battle against Union minister and BJP’s incumbent MP Smriti Irani.

With elections two days away, enthusiasm among the Congress workers was palpable as the cavalcade of the Congress general secretary reached Amethi to hold a roadshow along with Sharma.

Priyanka has been campaigning extensively for Rae Bareli and Amethi seats ever since Rahul Gandhi and Sharma filed nominations for the seats, respectively. Though it was speculated that the absence of Gandhi in the fray in Amethi may give MP Irani an edge in Amethi, the contest is turning out to be a tough one, says Uma Shankar Misra, a lawyer and a resident of the constituency.

“There is widespread discontent against the MP. I voted for the BJP in 2019 and now I have realised my mistake. We are confident that Sharma will win by a margin of two lakhs votes this time,” says Misra, general secretary of the district bar association.

“My house was razed by the district administration of Amethi without giving giving adequate time to challenge the demolition order,” says Mishra, adding that his appeals to the MP and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister fell on deaf ears.

He said that the administration acted in vengeance against the members of the Bar Association as they protested against the establishment of a civil court in the district. Later the Allahabad High Court stayed the demolition process and expressed displeasure over the action of the Amethi administration, he points out.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, Irani defeated Gandhi by over 50,000 votes. Though Gandhi has decided to contest from Rae Bareli this time, he asserted that he would treat Amethi and Rae Bareli equally when it comes to development if his party comes to power at the Centre. However, the BJP and Irani call him a “runaway soldier”.

Considered a Gandhi family bastion, Amethi has been represented by four members of the family—Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, and Rahul. Congress workers say that Sharma, a loyalist of the Gandhi family, has worked very closely with the people of Amethi.

Contesting the claims of the Congress, BJP leader Ramanand says that Irani brought development to the constituency, which was long neglected by the Gandhi family .

“The Gandhi family treated the seat as their family property and took the people for granted. This time, Irani will win by a higher margin,” he says. The BJP is also facing anger from many residents over the UP health department’s move to suspend the licence of Amethi’s Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital last year following the death of a 22-year-old woman, says Ram Yadav.

“Allahabad HC stayed the suspension. However, we believe it was closed for political reasons as the hospital was built by a trust formed by former PM Indira Gandhi,” he says. The disquiet among a section of Brahmins and Thakurs may work against the BJP, says a BJP leader, adding that top leaders of the party is making efforts to pacify the community.

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