Amethi has remained the citadel of the Congress but this time round BJP’s Smriti Irani wrested the seat from Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, winning by 35,000 votes. While Irani garnered 49.02 per cent of the vote share in Amethi, Gandhi is behind with 44.44. Addressing a press conference, Rahul Gandhi conceded defeat in Amethi and congratulated Irani, saying he respected the mandate of the people of the constituency.
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Smriti Irani campaigned aggressively in Amethi, where she had contested and lost to Rahul Gandhi in 2014 but had managed to reduce his winning margin to one lakh. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi, who had campaigned for her brother, had cited the Gandhis’ legacy and the constituency’s “personal” relationship with the family in Amethi. Amethi Lok Sabha Election 2019 Results
Amethi, one of the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, was witness to an intense political battle between two traditional parties— the BJP and Congress. A Congress bastion for decades, the constituency has remained loyal to the party through thick and thin, even when the Grand Old Party received its worst mandate in history in the 2014 parliamentary polls owing to an unstoppable Modi wave.
Home to 1,431,787 voters, the constituency witnessed a 53 per cent turnout this electoral season, slightly more than the 2014 parliamentary elections when 52.38 per cent votes were polled.
Rahul Gandhi vs Smriti Irani
Termed as one of the safest seats for the Gandhi family, Amethi has sent Rahul Gandhi thrice to Parliament in the last 15 years. The Congress president has been a favourite among the local population who find themselves emotionally connected to the Gandhi-Nehru family. He has succeeded despite facing strong anti-incumbency in the past.
In 2019, BJP has once again placed its bet on Union Minister Smriti Irani who unsuccessfully contested against Gandhi in 2014 and lost by a margin of 1,07,903 votes. Since then, Irani has been consistently visiting the constituency, taking on the Congress leadership. On the day of voting, Irani tweeted, “Booth capturing karne Rahul Gandhi padhare hain. Rahul Gandhi ko jawab dena parega, chori to pehle se karte hi they… ab vote ki chori karne aye hain… (Rahul Gandhi has come here for booth capturing. Rahul Gandhi will have to reply… he used to steal earlier, now he is stealing votes as well)”
While the two traditional parties are engaged in a turf war, the SP-BSP combine which for the first time is fighting in an alliance has decided to stay away from Amethi in a bid to “destabilise the BJP vote share.” “We decided to forego the Amethi and Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seats to the Congress to weaken the vote base of the BJP-RSS affiliated powers, in favour of the people, so that the two incumbent MPs (Rahul and Sonia Gandhi) contest from these seats again,” said BSP supremo Mayawati, days before voting. Congress returned the favour by declaring that it would not field candidates in seven Lok Sabha seats against the BSP-SP-RLD alliance (Mahagathbandhan) in UP.
A spirited campaign
Amethi is one of the most closely watched constituencies in this election and both, BJP and Congress, had kickstarted their campaign in the seat way before the poll dates were even announced. The first such indication of a tough fight on the seat came when Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his first visit to the district on March 4 this year accused the Congress of “compromising national security”, saying demands of the defence sector were not addressed by previous governments. The Prime Minister flanked by Irani launched a project for the manufacture of AK-203 rifles in Korwa and said that the forces would soon use rifles ‘Made in Amethi’.
This was the first wave of a mammoth campaign to be mounted by the saffron party on the seat which later saw stalwarts like Yogi Adityanath, Amit Shah among others holding several roadshows and rallies for Irani one after the other.
Meanwhile, Congress did not retract without a fight either as the constituency saw several meetings by party candidate Rahul Gandhi who interacted with farmers, inaugurated several projects including a school during his visits. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi also joined her brother, Rahul on the campaign trail and extensively participated in the poll strategy on the seat.
The BJP has selectively targeted Gandhi for his alleged absence from the constituency after he announced his decision to simultaneously contest from Wayanad in Kerala which gave fresh ammunition to Smriti Irani who said that the “missing MP has betrayed the people.” Rahul was absent from Amethi on the day of the voting, while Irani camped in the district. The Congress, however, has maintained that the party chief’s decision to contest from Wayanad was to assure South Indian voters do not feel they are left out from the national political scene.
The results will be declared on May 23 and it will be interesting to see which side the voters swing, whether they continue with Gandhi or switch over to Irani, thereby placing faith in Narendra Modi’s leadership.