Congress has chosen Kerala’s Wayanad seat for its president sensing several factors that are going against him in the Gandhi family bastion
It takes extraordinary arrogance for an empire to advertise its ruins, in the belief that people should be grateful for it. But then, nobody can accuse the Nehru-Gandhi family of an ordinary sense of entitlement.
Amethi is a living, breathing example of how the India’s most powerful ruling family has brazenly neglected the very constituency which has repeatedly voted it to power.
Rahul Gandhi’s parliamentary constituency, for instance, has the grim feat of having per capita income of Rs15,559 as against the average of Rs26,698 in impoverished Uttar Pradesh, which is already among the nation’s poorest. The national average is Rs74,193 (figures for 2014-15). Only 37.2% houses had electricity before Modi became PM.
While Rahul won in 2014 by 1.07 lakh votes, barely 20 days of campaign by Smriti Irani wiped out his 2009 margin by almost three-fourth from 3.7 lakh votes.
This election is likely to end even that slimming dominance. Rahul Gandhi may have read that writing on the walls of Amethi’s shut factories and mossy foundation stones. He has opted for Wayanad in Kerala as a presumably safe alternative.
As he files his nomination from Amethi on Wednesday, here are six reasons he is facing defeat.
1. Funding channels
In interviews with MyNation, many Amethi residents have alleged that the Congress widely and systematically uses money to buy votes and keep their bastion. “Money comes here before elections not in sacks but in tankers,” says a resident.
But with the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in the state and Modi regime at the Centre, there is strict vigilance on financial networks this time. The Election Commission is also keeping a sharp eye on the ground for mischief.
Illegal funds are brought into Amethi using the narcotic networks, which are under severe surveillance this time.
A close family friend and an aide of former PM Rajiv Gandhi is said to be the harbinger of notes in Amethi before elections.
But this time, the state machinery is out to stop that at all costs, sources say. Some local Congress leaders who recently joined the BJP are also providing inside information on the money trail.
2. Smriti got 5 years to build org
“In 2014, I went for just 20 days and the margin came down drastically. We built on that. Since 2014, every Assembly and local election Rahul Gandhi has lost. For the first time in history, we won four of the five Assembly seats in that Lok Sabha constituency,” Irani had told MyNation in this December 2018 interview.
The constituency where the BJP had virtually no presence five years ago now teems with BJP workers. Party president Amit Shah has personally taken interest in building the organisation, and Smriti has visited every other month, clearly spelling out her intentions to dislodge the Gandhis from their bastion.
3. Split in Muslim votes?
The votebank Congress depends on, Muslims, might see a split. Haji Mohammed Harood Rashid — a former Gandhi family whose father had signed nominations of Rahul Gandhi’s parents Sonia and Rajiv — has quit the party and will fight against Rahul.
Rashid is apparently backed by some Samajwadi Party supporters and may be able to cut into the Congress’s votes, further weakening Rahul.
4. Congress neglect
From shut factories to projects unfinished for decades to moon-crater roads, Amethi is a perfect picture of neglect.
The male literacy rate is 64.4% while the female literacy is 53.5%, compared with India’s overall 74%. Barely 1.5% households given job cards under Congress’s flagship MNREGA reportedly got 100 days of employment in Amethi and Rae Bareli.
“From the petroleum university onwards, you will find shilanyas ka paththhar from Captain Satish Sharma’s time. Then Modi was not the PM. For 15 years now, Rahul Gandhi has been the MP from Amethi. For 10 years they had a ‘friendly’ government. For 10 years UPA was ruling at the Centre. He was all powerful, but could not do anything for the constituency. In that case, he is genuinely not interested or he is genuinely incapable,” Smriti had said in the MyNation interview.
She said not even a fertiliser rake had arrived in Amethi before her taking initiative. “When Yogi became the CM, there were 90-odd schools where children would first time sit on a chair. In 2014, schools in Shukalbazar area were operating out of wheat godowns,” she said.
5. What Smriti and Centre have done
Rahul had mocked the PM on Ayushman Bharat, world’s largest health insurance scheme which the Modi regime has started. Now, 1.75 lakh families there benefit from the scheme. The Saubhagya electrification scheme has been completed. Houses and toilets have been made both in urban and rural parts of Amethi.
The constituency has got its first Krishi Vigyan Kendra, first soil testing lab and the first fertiliser rake in the last five years.
The topping was the AK rifle-making factory which opened recently.
6. BJP government in the state
Whether the BJP admits it or not, having its own state government in UP this time gives it a huge advantage.
The ‘friendly’ SP and BSP governments had extended a virtual no-compete privilege to the Gandhi family in Amethi and Rae Bareilly. This time the local law enforcement authorities are a lot more vigilant.
For Rahul Gandhi, the grass surely looks greener in Kerala’s Wayanad, a little over 2,000km away from his dusty, abandoned Amethi.
Last Updated 2:07 PM IST