The Amethi parliamentary constituency, represented in the Lok Sabha by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, has four Assembly segments — Tiloi, Gauriganj and Jagdishpur (reserved) in Amethi district and Salon (reserved) in Raebareli. Amethi goes to the polls in the fifth phase on May 6.
All Set for High Profile Battle
The BJP announced in its first list of candidates that union minister Smriti Irani will reprise her electoral battle with Congress president Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, where she had lost to him in 2014 but was seen to have put up a spirited fight.
In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Irani lost to Gandhi by more than one lakh votes. He has won from Amethi three times since 2004.
Since then, Irani has been visiting Amethi, a Congress bastion for decades, and accused that Gandhi has been treating the constituency as a vote bank. She alleged that the ‘naamdars’ (dynasts) who ruled for over five decades, never thought about the development of Amethi.
The seat has long been a stronghold of the Congress party, which hasn’t been defeated here in the last three decades barring 1998 when the BJP’s Sanjay Singh defeated Satish Sharma of the Congress by a small margin. Amethi was regained by the Congress in 1999 when Sonia Gandhi was elected as MP from Amethi.
But things have moved a long way since. While Rahul Gandhi managed to defeat Smriti Irani in 2014 by a margin of almost 12 percent, his victory was far less impressive than in most Lok Sabha elections since independence.
Not only was Rahul Gandhi reduced to a vote share of just 46 percent – against his earlier shares of 71 and 66 percent in the 2009 and 2004 elections respectively – but the Congress has also conceded significant space here to its arch-rival. The BJP, whose vote share in Amethi languished in single digits in 2004, garnered 37 per cent of votes cast in 2014.
Things have become even more worrisome for the Congress after the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections in 2017 when the BJP managed to win 4 of the 5 assembly seats under the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency.
The only seat the BJP lost was Gauriganj – and not to the Congress but the Samajwadi Party.
The BJP and Smriti Irani understand this arithmetic well, and party leaders and the union minister have been visiting the constituency very regularly. Minister Irani was here a fortnight ago to announce a package of Rs 77 crore for Amethi on behalf of the central government.