Rahul Gandhi visited his former consituency – UP’s Amethi today, his first since the poll defeat
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visited his former constituency Amethi today. This was his first visit after losing the parliamentary constituency to Union minister Smriti Irani in the Lok Sabha election held earlier this year.
Mr Gandhi first went to Gauriganj and visited Congress’s Tiloi assembly in-charge Mata Prasad Vaish, whose relative had died on June 25, and paid condolences to the aggrieved family. He later attended a review meeting with party office-bearers and leaders.
Mr Gandhi then met Congress party representatives, including booth presidents of five assembly segments – Salon, Amethi, Gauriganj, Jagdishpur and Tiloi.
During his visit, Rahul Gandhi made an impassioned appeal to the people of Amethi, that he would never sever his ties with his former constituency. “I may be the MP of Wayanad, but I will keep on coming here. Please don’t think I won’t come here. I will always keep coming here,” he said.
“My relationship with Amethi is personal, and not political,” he said at one of his meetings, adding that “Victory and defeat are a part of political life, but I will never leave Amethi.”
More than 15,000 people turned up for the meeting for which only 1,200 were invited, reported news agency IANS.
Motivating workers from his party, Rahul Gandhi asked them to remain prepared for a long battle to resurrect the Congress, saying he would stand beside them at all times.
After his meeting, Rahul Gandhi met the residents of Amethi and clicked photographs with locals. He tweeted “I am very happy to be here in Amethi. Coming to Amethi feels like coming home.”
अमेठी आकर बहुत खुश हूँ। अमेठी आना घर आने जैसा लगता है। pic.twitter.com/B6YW2f7aLg
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 10, 2019
68-year-old Ganga Prasad, a former gram pradhan or rural body official, braved the heavy rain in Amethi today just to meet Rahul Gandhi. He shared his thoughts with Mr Gandhi on what he feels would help revive the Congress. “The only way to rebuild the party in Amethi is to connect with the grassroot workers,” he said.
“The Congress must listen to the workers on the ground and take feedback from the poor,” the 68-year-old insisted.
Another local, 61-year-old farmer Bhagwan Singh, says he was a Congress worker for decades, but got disillusioned by the inaccessibility of its big leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, and finally decided to switch over to the BJP.
“Smriti Irani was always accessible. Even when she lost, she used to come here regularly. Even after she won the election, she has come here three times,” Mr Singh said.
Some of this alleged inaccessibility was on display today, when at least 50 Congress workers, some of them veterans in Amethi, were not allowed to enter the meeting venue by Mr Gandhi’s security because they were ‘late’. The workers tried reasoning with them saying that it was raining heavily, but weren’t allowed in.
In a historic election battle, BJP’s Smriti Irani defeated Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, which for decades had been voting for the Congress and Mr Gandhi’s family. Ms Irani won by a margin of over 55,000 votes.
Losing Amethi has been a huge loss of face for 49-year-old Rahul Gandhi.
Smriti Irani had campaigned aggressively in Amethi ahead of the 2019 general elections. Even in 2014, when she had lost to Rahul Gandhi, she had managed to reduce his winning margin to just one lakh. That should have served as enough warning for the Congress that it could not take the constituency for granted.
However, even at the height of the election campaign, Rahul Gandhi visited Amethi only once, when he held a roadshow before filing his nomination papers.
Until 2019, Congress had not lost in Amethi in over three decades, with 1998 being the only exception – that too for less than a year.
Rahul Gandhi had represented the Amethi Lok Sabha seat since 2004. He is currently a Member of Parliament from Wayanad constituency in Kerala – the second constituency he contested from in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
(With inputs from PTI and IANS)
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