At a time when Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is busy at the helm of the anti-demonetisation campaign, the BJP is making inroads into his parliamentary constituency Amethi, with Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar adopting yet another village there.
Parrikar recently adopted Hariharpur village of Shahgarh block under the Sansad Adarsha Gram Yojana. Local BJP leaders say Parrikar had attended a morning RSS Shakha in this village while campaigning during the 2014 elections.
As Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh, Parrikar has now adopted two villages under the Yojna in Amethi. In 2015, he had adopted Barauliya village of Gauriganj Tehsil, where BJP leaders claim development works have already started.
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“We have received the application by the minister about adoption of Harriharpur as second model village in Amethi. However, there is no indication yet about when he will personally visit,” said Chandra Kant Pandey, district magistrate of Amethi.
Known as a stronghold of the RSS, the adoption of Hariharpur has enthused local BJP leaders, who feel it will help set an example and trigger comparison in the Gandhi bastion, which can be used during the upcoming Assembly elections.
“In 2015, we had recommended a few villages to the minister when he had expressed the desire to adopt a village in Amethi. While he had then selected Barailiya, Hariharpur was also in the list,” said Govind Singh, senior BJP leader and party spokesperson in Amethi. “It is the village of RSS leader Brahma Shankar Tiwari. While campaigning there in 2014, Parrikar had not only addressed a public meeting in this village, but had also attended a morning RSS shakha,” he added.
The Congress dismissed the move an attempt to gain publicity, dubbing the scheme a “complete failure”.
“The Sansad Adarsha Gram Yojana is a complete failure and this is the reason why Rahul Gandhiji has not adopted the second village.
There are no special funds under the scheme and it is being used by MPs to only gain publicity.” said Chandra Kant Dubey, Rahul’s representative in Amethi.
He added, “Forget about the earlier village adopted by Mr Parrikar in Amethi, we ask the public to go and visit Jayapur, the first village adopted by the prime minister in Varanasi and see its condition today. That would be enough to make things clear.”
Meanwhile, speaking to The Indian Express, Kamta Singh, chief of Harriharpur village, said, “When Manohar Parrikar had come here as Goa chief minister during Lok Sabha elections, he had promised to take care of the village if we voted in favour of the party. He has fulfilled his promise.”
Speaking about the village, he said that Harriharpur had a small population of around 2,500 people, with ‘Brahmins’, ‘Thakurs’ and backwards being the dominant sections. Singh further said that the RSS shakha had been prevalent in the village for the past 18 years.
Though neither BJP nor the local administration had information about when Parrikar would be visiting Harriharpur, sources said that Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani was expected to visit Amethi on December 13 alongwith other ministers to launch some of the Centre’s schemes in Tiloi Assembly constituency.
Sources said that former MLA from Tiloi, Mayankeshwar Sharan Singh, who had lost the election as an SP candidate to Mohd Muslim of Congress in 2012, was likely to rejoin BJP in her presence as well.