It was not Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (who contested and won from Phulpur), but his son-in-law Feroze Gandhi who fought and won the first Lok Sabha election from the constituency of Rae Bareli in independent India’s first General Election between October 1951 to March 1952. The first MP of Amethi, Vidya Dhar Bajpai was from the Indian National Congress and was elected in the year 1967. Amethi is important for the Congress as it has elected four members of the Gandhi family in the past. Smriti Irani may have lost the battle to Rahul Gandhi in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, but her performance was worthy of appreciation as she almost defeated Rahul Gandhi in Amethi. The margin with which Rahul Gandhi won in the previous Lok Sabha election of 2009, got reduced to less than half. Even after losing the election, Smriti Irani has been a regular visitor of Amethi. During the recently conducted Civic Polls in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the Congress received major embarrassment and a big jolt as their candidate even lost the Nagar Panchayat seat of Amethi to the BJP candidate.
Rahul Gandhi took over the position of the Congress President from his mother Sonia Gandhi in December, 2017 through a sham of an election. He began his two-day visit to Amethi, his Lok Sabha constituency, followed by a visit to Rae Bareli on January 15th, 2018. This is his first visit to Amethi after becoming the President of the Congress party. After the poor show in the Vidhan Sabha elections in 2017, this visit was planned to improve the party’s presence in the crucial state of UP.
A poster war had begun between the Congress and the BJP before Rahul Gandhi’s visit. The Congress printed posters that showed their party President Rahul Gandhi as Lord Rama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Ravana. To counter this, the local unit of the BJP attacked Rahul Gandhi verbally by pointing out that he has been a “missing MP”. A bunch of angry protesters with certain grievances “greeted” Rahul Gandhi in Amethi and Rae Bareli on Monday. The protesters called Rahul Gandhi an absent Member of Parliament and demanded answers from Rahul Gandhi on the promises he has made to the people since becoming an MP in 2004. Armed with sticks, the Congress workers arrived at the site of protest and started beating up the protesters present there.
The matter turned ugly and went to the police. The Congress accused the BJP of staging the entire protest. Concerned and angered by the whole incident, the BJP MLA Dal Bahadur Kori annoyed went to the Salon Police Station and sought action against the Congress workers and hoodlums associated with the party who had beaten up the protesters. He categorically denied that his own party, the BJP, had anything to do with the protest and that it was an unacceptable act of misfeasance and violence by the Congress workers and supporters to beat up protesters. Kori further said that in a democracy everybody had a right to ask valid questions of their leader.
The common people of Amethi who have always stood by the Gandhi family are dissatisfied with the performance of their present MP Rahul Gandhi. During his campaign, Rahul Gandhi, made a lot of promises to the people of his constitutency. He has so far failed to deliver on those promises. By his own standards, Rahul Gandhi’s performance in the Lok Sabha election in 2014 was not much below expectations. It would not be incorrect to say that it appears that in the recent future, the BJP would be able to give Congress President Rahul Gandhi a very tough fight in Amethi and if the party plays its cards well and comes up with a formidable election strategy then it could even defeat the Congress party in Amethi.
The BJP looks determined to wrest the ancestral seat of Rahul Gandhi. This is not merely a seat, but the seat of Gandhi family’s political and electoral power. Rahul Gandhi’s uncle Sanjay Gandhi was elected from here in 1980, father Rajiv Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi too have represented Amethi in the past.
Winning the seat of Amethi is absolutely crucial for the political control and career of Congress Prince Rahul Gandhi as Amethi has always elected the members of the Gandhi family since 1980, with the only exception being the Lok Sabha election of 1998 when BJP’s Sanjay Singh won the seat. Similarly, neighbouring Rae Bareli, too, has been the pocketborough of the Gandhi family.
But, in the present political scenario with BJP President Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani close on the heels of the Congress scion, it can be said that in the next General Election, it would be interesting to see whether Rahul Gandhi is able to retain Amethi or whether (the electorate of) Amethi retains him, especially considering that the people of Amethi now have a strong and credible alternative in the form of Smriti Irani who has risen through her party’s ranks unlike the faltering descendant of the Gandhi family.
Looks like People of Amethi have decided a new Lok Sabha Constituency for Rahul Gandhi. It could be any place, in any part and any state of India. But it cannot be Amethi.