No Gandhi in Amethi this time, Congress leaves it to Kishori Lal Sharma

Amethi: With Rahul Gandhi choosing Rae Bareli over Amethi this time, it seems that the Gandhis have given up a constituency considered to be their bastion.

Amethi has a history with the Gandhi clan. When Sanjay Gandhi chose Amethi to contest his first election in 1980, the main reason was that the region was steeped in backwardness and he took it up as a challenge to develop the constituency. The same year, Sanjay Gandhi died in an air crash and Rajiv Gandhi decided to take over his brother’s constituency in the subsequent by-election in 1981.

For a decade, till Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991, he held Amethi and nurtured it with attention and affection.

Even as Prime Minister, he would drive around in his jeep from village to village, talking to people and sharing meals with them.

After his demise, Capt Satish Sharma — a close family friend — won Amethi in 1991 bypoll and 1996 also.

In 1998, BJP’s Dr Sanjay Singh won the seat but when Sonia Gandhi made her debut in politics, she wrested back Amethi in 1999.

In 2004, Sonia Gandhi moved to Rae Bareli and Rahul Gandhi took over Amethi which he won till 2019 when he was defeated by Smriti Irani of BJP.

The problem of Amethi is strikingly similar to the one faced by Rae Bareli.

Representatives of the Gandhi family have become leaders in their own rights and instead of responding to people’s problems, they are busy with their own business. The old loyalists have been replaced by new opportunists in the constituency.

As a result, non-Congress parties usurped the opportunity to establish a connect with the people and this led to Rahul Gandhi’s stunning defeat in 2019.

As things stand today, three of the five Assembly seats in Amethi are held by BJP (Tiloi, Salon and Jagdishpur) while two are with Samajwadi Party (Gauriganj and Amethi).

Gauriganj MLA Rakesh Pratap Singh switched his loyalty to BJP in the recent Rajya Sabha elections which means that BJP now holds sway over almost four seats.

The Congress organisational network in Amethi has been torn to shreds and if one of the Gandhis does decide to contest from here, it will be a Herculean task to build up an army of supporters needed for electioneering.

The candidature of Kishori Lal Sharma from Amethi may not enthuse the party workers sufficiently even though he has been frequenting the constituency in the absence of the Gandhis.

Sharma has never been seen as a leader — at best, he is known as a Gandhi loyalist who acted as a bridge between the family and the constituency.

Moreover, he is pitted against a ‘giant’ like Smriti Irani who holds sway over Amethi in her inimitable way.


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