Amethi election result: ‘Giant killer’ Smriti Irani won a close battle defeating Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Amethi Lok Sabha seat which has been a citadel of the Gandhi family. Rahul Gandhi represented Amethi thrice in Lok Sabha – 2004, 2009, and 2014.
Conceding defeat, Rahul Gandhi said he respects the decision taken by the people of Amethi. “I respect the decision taken by the people of Amethi. I hope that Smriti Irani takes care of Amethi, and repays the faith that the people of Amethi have reposed in her,” he said during a press conference at the party headquarters in New Delhi.
As per updates available till the filing of this report, Smriti Irani ahead by over 30,000 votes against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi.
कौन कहता है आसमां में सुराख नहीं हो सकता …
— Chowkidar Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) May 23, 2019
The Congress has won every election from Amethi barring 1998. Rahul represented this constituency for three consecutive terms since 2004. The constituency was created in 1967 and covers the entire Amethi district. According to the Election Commission data, the constituency has 16.69 lakh electors.
Rahul Gandhi’s image has suffered a significant dent as Smriti Irani managed to upset the top leader of the Congress party in his own backyard. The Congress president has been representing Amethi in the Lok Sabha since 2004. He had won elections in 2004 and 2009 by a handsome margin. But in 2014, BJP’s Irani gave him a tough fight, reducing the victory margin to 1.08 lakh from 3.50 lakh in 2009 for Rahul.
While Rahul mostly stayed away from his constituency during the campaign, Irani was seen reaching out to the people of Amethi and listening to their grievances regardless of her loss in 2014. Rahul’s campaign in Amethi was mainly bolstered by his sister Priyanka Gandhi who was made in charge of east UP’s 40 seats including Amethi earlier this year with a hope that her entry into active politics will help the grand old party revive its ground cadre. The Congress’ campaign got a boost when Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, appealed to voters in Amethi and Raebareli parliamentary constituencies to vote for the Congress. The BSP is a part of the grand alliance comprising Samajwadi Party and RLD. The alliance has not fielded anyone against Rahul to avoid division of votes in the opposition camp.
On the other hand, Irani’s campaign saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and LJP president Ram Vilas Paswan hold rallies in the constituency. While the BJP leaders accused Rahul of ignoring the needs of people in the last 15 years, the Congress alleged that BJP-led governments at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh stalled several development projects including the food park.
Posters claiming Rahul Gandhi ‘missing’ from his parliamentary constituency appeared in Amethi ahead of the polls. The campaign also saw BJP leaders questioning the nationality of Rahul. The Congress dealt with the situation with Priyanka batting on the front foot for her brother. On the day of the election, Irani accused the Congress of booth capturing and forcing people to press the Congress button against their wishes. Also, Rahul’s absence on the day of polling invited criticism from his political rivals, especially Irani. The EC, however, found that Irani’s booth capturing allegation was bogus.