Tuesday, May 26, 2015

All in the Family

Has Amethi been touched by the winds of change in Indian politics?

Written by Ramendra Singh | Published on:January 5, 2014 4:25 am

Of the many slogans painted on unplastered brick walls and narrow lanes in Amethi,this one seems to particularly express the steadfast loyalty of this Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh: Kabhie na bhoolo Rajiv bhaiya ka ehsan,duniya mein banayi Amethi ki alag pehchan. (Never forget Rajiv Gandhi’s favours,he gave Amethi a separate identity). For the Gandhi dynasty and its scion,Amethi has been both a royal bastion and a faithful retainer.

But with the rout of the Congress in recent assembly elections in four states,and the increasing helplessness of Rahul Gandhi’s earnest do-gooding against the Modi juggernaut,what are the over 15 lakh voters of Amethi thinking? The newest political challenger,Aam Aadmi Party (AAP),has made a quiet appearance here,with brash talk of fielding Kumar Vishwas against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Can its disruptive politics take root here?

At tea stalls and paan shops,there is talk of the general elections ahead. While loyalties still run deep among an older generation,a dissenting note can be heard in conversations with youngsters,who want not just patronage,but jobs and amenities. Ashutosh Mishra will cast his ballot for the first time in the coming Lok Sabha polls. “Modi is brilliant. Rahul failed to impress me when he came to our school,” says the 18-year-old,when we meet him at the American English Speaking Institute,where he is pursuing a spoken English course.

Many youngsters see Rahul as a non-performer not only in comparison with Modi and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal,but also his own ancestors — Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi. “What’s the use of multi-crore projects if they do not benefit locals? Amethi was developed by Rajiv Gandhi but Rahul has done nothing. The development work in Gujarat,on the other hand,is impressive. I can’t even think of getting a job here,” says Mishra,who wants to do a management course,and plans to join his father,who works as a security guard in Noida.

Dhirendra Pratap Singh,19,who studies at Ranveer Rananjay PG College,calls his family Congress bhakts (worshippers) and knows they will always vote for the panja. But he minces no words in expressing his dissatisfaction. “Kaam ka Rahul nahi hai,sirf naam ka Rahul hai,” he says,standing a few yards away from a statue of Rajiv Gandhi in a busy market. A resident of Bhausinghpur village near Amethi,he says he will vote for the BJP.

But before he can finish,Dayaram Yadav joins the conversation. Holding on to a stick for support,the 72-year-old says,“I was a security guard at PGIMER,Chandigarh. People gave me respect just because I was from Rahul’s constituency. I will always vote for him.”

Some youngsters,who have benefitted from the new institutes in the district,agree with him. Mishra’s friend,Navneet Singh,feels Rahul has been instrumental in opening professional institutes in the district and providing other amenities. An undergraduate at the Ranveer Rananjay College,his younger sister studies at Footwear Design and Development Institute in Fursatganj area of Amethi district.

Amethi district has 1,431 government primary schools,433 government upper primary schools,33 government-aided primary schools,42 madrasas and 145 intermediate schools,including 18 government inter-colleges. There is one Kendriya Vidyalaya in Jagdishpur …continued »

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