Rahul may win Amethi, yet lose sheen

Rahul Gandhi would win LS seat a third time but by a lesser margin; BJP, AAP set to work their way into overall voter disgruntlement

deevakar

Deevakar Anand | April 24, 2014


The school in Saalpur village, off Amethi town, is an example of lack of development in the high-profile constituency: It has no roof, no walls and yet sees enthusiasm for education only rise with each year.
Deevakar Anand

In Amethi, there is no palpable ‘Modi wave’ OR ‘BJP lehar’. Nor do the voters here identify themselves much with the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) anti-corruption pitch.

In contrast, the Gandhi family still evokes emotional support among the residents.

Yet, the Congress party’s sitting MP and vice-president Rahul Gandhi could well be the biggest loser here.

BJP candidate Smriti Irani and AAP’s Kumar Vishwas may not win in this hitherto Gandhi family stronghold – since 1980, when Sanjay Gandhi won from here, the seat has been retained by brother Rajiv followed by Sonia Gandhi and now Rahul since 2004 – but Amethi voters are likely to make a huge shift in loyalty when the constituency goes to the polls on May 7.

Voters here are still to be overwhelmed by either Narendra Modi or Kejriwal but Rahul Gandhi’s style of politics has left them confused. As a result, despite Gandhi bagging the seat, the BJP and AAP looks set to plough big into this confusion.

At Jagdishpur in Amethi, Rajneesh Singh, 38, a “traditional Congress voter”, said “Rahul bhaiya” would win this time, too, but claimed he will vote for BJP in this election. “Rahul bhaiya remains in our hearts but he has failed to help the poor farmers,” said Singh, a Rajput farmer, pointing to little that the two-time Congress MP has done to waive off loans for farmers and increase the minimum support price for their crops.

At Saalpur village, a few kilometers ahead towards the Amethi district headquarters, 28-year-old Maroof Khan, another “traditional” Congress voter who runs a middle school (with classes up to eighth standard), said though he will still vote for Gandhi, he will do so due to “lack of a concrete choice.”

Khan’s school has asbestos sheets for a roof, has no walls, and dust and heat sweeps across the open classrooms as the April heat gathers steam. Yet, the school is filled to the brim.

That, too, Khan said, is due to the lack of an option. “Parents don’t have much choice around here. There is dearth of government schools and most private schools charge high fees and do not offer quality education,” he said. “Here, the facilities may not be good but our fee is nominal and we are known to provide good education.”

Talking about his MP, Khan said, “Rahul Gandhi never comes in this area. He returns from the Munshi Ganj guesthouse, which is about 12 kilometres away.”

Both Singh and Khan believe Gandhi’s winning margin in this election will go down heavily.

Amethi, sadly, is bearing the brunt of apathy at the hands of the state government as well. It is caught between the confusion on who will carry out the civic and development work, and a greater confusion on who might take the credit of bringing any visible change here – the local MP or the state government.

BJP’s Smriti Irani and AAP’s Kumar Vishwas are camping in Amethi and undertaking rigorous campaigning .

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