The next general elections, scheduled for 2024, are still three years away, but the BJP has already started making preparations to completely diminish Congress in Uttar Pradesh. The grand old party had failed to make any electoral significance in the most politically important state of the country during the 2019 elections with just one Lok Sabha seat. This time around, the saffron party has resolved to win even that one Congress bastion of Raebareli, which is currently held by Congress Interim President Sonia Gandhi.
To gain complete electoral control of Uttar Pradesh in the upcoming Lok Sabha election, the BJP has given the responsibility to Union Minister for Textiles and Women & Child Development Smriti Irani. This resolve is clearly evident with her increasing number of tours in the region. The BJP is creating a positive atmosphere for itself by addressing the difficulties of the people there, in a bid to free Raebareli from the clutches of Sonia Gandhi or any other Gandhi family member who contests from the constituency in the next election.
According to reports, Smriti Irani reached Amethi on 25 December. During this time, she also participated in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mann Ki Baat program in a village of Salon. It is pertinent to note that though Salon is part of the Amethi parliamentary constituency, it falls within the Raebareli district.
Interestingly, during this time, Irani did not sit in the VIP area, but instead, chose to sit with the women to talk to them and discuss their problems. She also thereafter directed the officials to seek a quick resolution of the issues. This is the fourth time Smriti Irani has visited Salon since becoming MP for Amethi in 2019. Constantly visiting these regions of Raebareli and meeting the people is going a long way towards ensuring good political fortunes in the upcoming elections.
During her previous visit to Salon, on October 20, Irani had reviewed and inaugurated development projects in Amethi. Making her intent to emerge victorious in Raebareli in the next elections, she had said, “The family at the head of a political party used to do their politics in Amethi-Raebareli. This family took votes from the people but did nothing for the development of the area. People voted for the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections for change.”
Irani had shown commendable results in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Through a combined power of promising good governance, recognising the relevance of the people and offering developmental growth, Smriti Irani had defeated Rahul Gandhi and won the people’s mandate in Amethi, a traditional Gandhi bastion.
Apart from Smriti Irani, BJP has delegated other heavyweight leaders to move into Raebareli as well. The party has given the charge of the constituency to Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma, indicating BJP’s seriousness towards the traditional Congress bastion.
Moreover, Congress’ own MLAs from Harchandpur assembly seat of Raebareli, Rakesh Singh, and Aditi Singh, from Raebareli’s Sadar assembly seat, have rebelled against the party and given statements in favour of BJP. This has further deteriorated Congress’ standing as there are no other credible leaders who could raise the party’s flag in the region.
Sonia Gandhi is on the verge of retirement. It is widely believed that she will not contest the elections this time around, but instead, the fabled daughter Priyanka Gandhi will take over the family bastion of Raebareli. For that, she is working to become Congress’ face in the state. While some might put her down as the better alternative to Rahul Gandhi’s substandard leadership, the fact remains that the grassroots-level leadership is seriously lacking.
In such a situation, under the leadership of Smriti, BJP has started making a path to Raebareli. By keeping Irani out of the limelight, the saffron party, behind the scenes, is working to garner the support of the people.
Despite losing to Rahul Gandhi in 2014, Irani had stayed determined and had continued to focus on inclusive development in the constituency, the fruitful results of which were shown by the people in 2019. This time around, even though the party has not appointed a special leader for Raebareli, Smriti Irani is preparing a warm political ground for the BJP in the region, which they believe will be invaluable in uprooting Congress from Uttar Pradesh in the 2024 general elections.