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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: With no Rahul in Amethi, will it be advantage for Smriti again?

Kishori Lal Sharma can draw solace from the fact that Priyanka has been campaigning extensively in Amethi as it has become a prestige fight for them. But BJP's Smriti Irani has set up camp in the constituency for almost a month and has been addressing Lok Sabha election meetings and rallies since then.
Last Updated : 15 May 2024, 10:55 IST
Last Updated : 15 May 2024, 10:55 IST

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Lucknow: Long delay in declaring its candidate and then leaving the family stronghold to Kishori Lal Sharma appears to have given a 'psychological edge' to BJP candidate and Union Minister Smriti Irani over the Congress in Uttar Pradesh's Amethi.

While Smriti Irani has set up camp in the constituency for almost a month and addressing Lok Sabha election meetings and rallies, Sharma launched his campaign only a few days back after being declared the party nominee.

‘’Congress ne faisala lene mein bahut der kar diya….agar Kishori Lal Sharma ko hi ticket dena tha to pahle hi ghoshna kar dete….hum logon ko samay to mil jata (Congress took a lot of time in deciding about its candidate in Amethi…if it wanted to field Kishori Lal Sharma the it should have declared him as its nominee much earlier…we would have got enough time to campaign)," said a local party worker sitting at the Congress office at Gauriganj in the constituency.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and party candidate from Amethi constituency Kishori Lal Sharma during a rally for Lok Sabha elections, in Amethi.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and party candidate from Amethi constituency Kishori Lal Sharma during a rally for Lok Sabha elections, in Amethi.

Credit: PTI Photo 

Congress' vote share in Amethi has been on the decline since 2009 Lok Sabha elections. In 2009, Rahul had secured over 71 per cent votes while the BJP could get only around six per cent. In 2014 parliamentary polls, however, BJP’s vote share jumped to 34.38 per cent while Congress’ declined to 46.71 per cent. In 2019, Rahul secured 43.84 per cent votes while Smriti Irani bagged 49.71 per cent in the polls.

Sharma however, has a big advantage. He knows the constituency like the back of his hand as he has been looking after the two Congress bastions of Amethi and Raebareli for the past 30 years, representing former Congress president Sonia Gandhi and senior party leader Rahul Gandhi. "Kishori Lal Sharma is familiar with every nook and corner of Amethi.....every party worker knows him.....he is aware of the problems the constituency faces,'' Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had said while addressing the Congress workers after Sharma filed his nomination papers.

But even the die-hard Congress supporters admit that Sharma is no replacement for Rahul. "Sharma is no match for Rahul…..he doesn’t have the same appeal," said Rakesh Singh, an old party loyalist and resident of Amethi town.

Smriti Irani has been on the offensive ever since Congress decided to field Sharma. "It shows that Rahul Gandhi has already conceded defeat. He knew that he would lose again and therefore abandoned Amethi and shifted to Raebareli,’’ Irani has been reiterating to the electorate here.

Although Irani defeated Rahul by around 55,000 votes in 2019 polls, the BJP had started preparing for the poll in Amethi long ago and as part of its plan to ensure its victory in this former Congress stronghold, the saffron party had started wooing the Congress leaders. BJP also succeeded in bringing to its fold two Samajwadi Party (SP) legislators-Rakesh Pratap Singh and Mahraji Devi, MLAs from Gauriganj and Amethi assembly seats respectively.

Singh hails from the electorally influential Thakur community and wields considerable influence on them while Mahraji Devi hails from 'Kumhar' community, which has a sizeable presence in Amethi assembly seat.

Sharma can draw solace from the fact that Priyanka has been campaigning extensively in Amethi as it has become a prestige fight for the Gandhi family. Priyanka has addressed dozens of election meetings in the constituency in the past few days. She has also held meetings of booth level party workers.

Priyanka also met with old party loyalists and planned to hold road shows in the constituency which will go to polls in the fifth phase of elections on May 20.

Amethi has 25 per cent SC voters and 21 per cent Muslims. While Muslims appear to be backing the grand old party, the SC votes are likely to be divided among Congress, BJP and BSP. Much will depend on how the 23 per cent of OBCs vote.

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Published 15 May 2024, 10:55 IST

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