With the BJP going all out to try and wrest this Nehru-Gandhi bastion from Rahul Gandhi in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress has launched a campaign to create awareness about the work done by the party vice president in his constitutuency. Under the ‘one village, one day’ campaign, Youth Congress workers are fanning out to villages across Amethi constituency where they hold meetings with the help of locals and distribute pamphlets containing details of development work started by Gandhi, according to district Congress chief Yogendra Misra. “On the very day earlier this week when senior BJP leaders were trying to win over loyal Congress supporters by discrediting Rahul Gandhi, the locals were protesting on streets shouting slogans ‘Kaam hamara, naam tumhara- nahi chalega’ (you cannot claim credit for work done by us),” he told PTI. BJP’s top leaders including party chief Amit Shah, Union minister Smriti Irani and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath descended on Amethi on Tuesday, and unveiled a plethora of projects.
Amit Shah questioned Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi over the development of his Lok Sabha constituency and castigated him for mocking Gujarat’s development model. Irani had lost to Gandhi in the 2014 Lok Sabha poll after a high octane campaign but significantly reduced the victory margin of the Congress leader.
“Though the people here are well aware of the contribution of Rahul Gandhi in the development of the area, we cannot sit idle and see someone else hijack it and lay false claims over it,” Misra said. Senior BJP leader Vijay Bahadur Pathak, however, rubbished Misra’s claim that the party was trying to “hijack” the credit for work done by the Congress leader.
“If the local MP has failed to give momentum to development in his constituency, it is for him to give a clarification. We want to give momentum to development and are continuously working towards that end,” Pathak said. The first phase of the Congress campaign, Misra said, would cover 200 villages. He said people will be informed about what Gandhi has done for his constituency and how the Centre “cancelled” several projects initiated by him. The second phase of the campaign will start after Diwali to expose the BJP’s “petty saffron politics”, he said.
Speaking about the projects launched by the BJP leaders on Tuesday, Misra said these were not in consonance with the status of the positions they hold. “The schemes launched included a night shelter, a tin shed….these are too small and are mostly launched by MLAs and municipal corporators,” Misra said. Pathak, the state unit general secretary of the BJP, however, said Congress may categorise development projects as big or small, but for BJP what matters is providing as many facilities to people as it can.
Misra targeted Irani, who has been visiting Amethi quite often despite her electoral loss and is seen as nurturing it before she contests the 2019 poll, asking what she has done for the area under the NDA dispensation. “Can she show even a single letter of any project that she has brought for Amethi in three-and-a-half years of NDA rule at the Centre?” he asked. One the other hand, he said, Congress has a long list of achievements like establishment of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) unit in 1982, BHEL unit in Jagdishpur in 1983 and Rail Neer Plant in 2014, besides Central School and Sainik School in 2014.
Senior Congress leader and former MLA Akhilesh Pratap Singh claimed it was because the BJP wanted to take credit for the works done by Rahul Gandhi that the district magistrate recently initially denied permission to Gandhi to visit his own constituency. “After Rahulji mentioned the list of works undertaken by him which the BJP leaders were scheduled to relaunch on their visit, the administration was left with no option but to make changes and got petty projects inaugurated by BJP chief Amit Shah and others,” Singh claimed.
The only two major projects they launched were the ones cleared by the previous Akhilesh Yadav government for which funds were also allotted, he said. “This false propaganda is being effectively countered at the district level,” Singh said.
During his October 5 trip to Amethi, Gandhi had accused the BJP government of trying to claim credit for works done by the previous Congress-led UPA government in his constituency by inaugurating them afresh.
The three-time Congress MP from Amethi also spoke about how he helped set up projects including a Rs 90 crore hospital, FM radio station, Rajiv Gandhi aviation university, Institute of Hotel Management and several others. Four members of the Nehru-Gandhi family have represented the constituency in the Lok Sabha since 1980.