Thauri polling station in Jagdishpur was the scene of high drama following a verbal duel which began after BJP candidate Smriti Irani questioned the presence of Preeti Sahai, aide of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, at the venue. The argument began when Smriti came across Preeti at Thauri polling station.
“How come you are in Amethi after May 5 (the last day of campaigning)? You are PS to Priyanka Gandhi and should have left Amethi on 5th because you are an outsider and not voter of Amethi,” Smriti told Preeti. While Preeti initially alleged that Smriti was trying to influence voters, Smriti asked the police officials inside the polling station to check her authority letter. To this, Preeti said she was leaving the booth.
Jagat Raj Tripathi, DM of Amethi, said “We got information about presence of Preeti in Amethi around 12 noon and we immediately asked her to leave Amethi, which she did.”
Preeti has been camping in Rae Bareli and Amethi along with Priyanka. While Congress leaders in Amethi have seen less of her because Priyanka started looking after Amethi recently, Congress leaders in Rae Bareli say she has been camping along with Priyanka. A Congress leader said, “Priyankaji has given her e-mail ID and contact number to all of us. Preetiji replies to all these mails and calls on her behalf. She is present with Priyanka at every visit.”
Preeti takes photographs, and makes notes of speeches while moving along with Priyanka from one village to another. According to party sources, Preeti has a background of working with NGOs and was head of strategic initiative at the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation before becoming Priyanka’s aide.
Despite repeated attempts no one from the Congress was available to comment on what capacity Preeti was present in Amethi.
At a late night press conference, Smriti demanded re-poll at seven booths in Amethi, four of these in Thauri. “There have been several complaints as even EVMs have been found to be left in open. I have requested EC that EVMs be stored in Lucknow and counting should take place there only because district administration here seems to be under pressure from Gandhi family.”