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On first visit to Amethi since assembly polls, Rahul Gandhi strikes a different chord

It is Rahul Gandhi’s first visit to his constituency Amethi since the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls and local party leaders were heartened by the change in him.

Written by Lalmani Verma | Lucknow |
Updated: October 5, 2017 6:19:11 pm
rahul gandhi, amethi, congress, rahul in amethi, rahul gandhi amethi visit, bjp, uttar pradesh, indian express Amethi: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi addressing a Chaupal at village Kathora in Amethi on Wednesday. (PTI Photo)

Amid speculation that Rahul Gandhi may take over as Congress president after Diwali, he visited his Lok Sabha constituency of Amethi for a three-day tour on Wednesday. It comes just days before the BJP holds a mega event in the district on October 10 with several union ministers likely to lay foundation stones of different infrastructure projects in the presence of party national President Amit Shah.

Union Minister Smriti Irani, who had unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha polls against Rahul in 2014, is hosting the programme and BJP sources said that at the event Rahul will be targeted on his own turf keeping in mind the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

It is Rahul’s first visit to his constituency since the state assembly polls and local party leaders were heartened by the change in him. “Unlike the lengthy, angry speeches delivered in the past against the BJP, Rahul kept his address at the first chaupal on Wednesday short and simple. He spoke about GST, unemployment and farmers, very calmly,” said a Congress leader in Amethi.

“By challenging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to hand over power to Congress if the NDA government fails to provide employment to youths and redress the problems of farmers, by claiming that the Congress can execute these tasks within six months, Rahul has indicated that he is ready to take on a ‘bigger’ responsibility,’’ he added.

rahul gandhi, amethi, congress, rahul in amethi, rahul gandhi amethi visit, bjp, uttar pradesh, indian express Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi at Amausi Airport in Lucknow on Wednesday. (Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)

Sources said, Rahul met with retired bureaucrats, chartered accountants and prominent businessmen of Amethi at the Munshiganj guest house and sought their opinions on GST and the changes they feel are needed in the local party organisation for a better performance in the Lok Sabha polls. Sources also said that Rahul met a journalist of a local Hindi daily who had been attacked by miscreants few weeks ago.

Rahul had last visited Amethi on February 23 to address public meetings in Gauriganj, Amethi, Tiloi and Jagdishpur assembly segments during the assembly elections. Previously, he had visited Salon assembly segment on February 13. However, the BJP won four of these five seats, excluding Gauriganj where the SP had won. The Congress went empty-handed — a cause of concern for the party. The BJP plans to set up its permanent party district headquarters in Amethi for organisational activities.

“The increase in BJP’s activities prior to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls could be a major reason for Rahul’s present three day tour,” said a Congress leader.

During the Chaupal, other leaders present on the stage with Rahul, said that it was unfortunate that Smriti Irani got over three lakh votes by canvassing for just one month. They urged the gathering to re-elect Rahul in 2019 elections to make him Prime Minister.

A few weeks ago, posters of a “missing” MP Rahul Gandhi had surfaced across Amethi and the party district office, promising ‘appropriate reward’ for any information about the Congress vice-president. The posters were put up on behalf of “Amethi ki Janata’. Congress leaders had called it the handiwork of the RSS and the BJP.

Congress spokesperson in Amethi, Anil Singh said, “Rahulji is a national leader and he has responsibilities of the party’s affairs across the country. He always remains concerned about the people of Amethi and his current tour is routine. It has no connection with any BJP programme.”

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