Rajat Sharma


AKB30 Poll fever has gripped Uttar Pradesh, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi filing his nomination in Varanasi on Tuesday in the presence of nearly 20 top leaders, including chief ministers and chiefs of allied parties. BJP president J P Nadda, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi campaigned in Amethi, while Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi jointly addressed an election rally in Jhansi. In Amethi, Priyanka Gandhi alleged that Prime Minister Modi is seeking votes not for his performance, but in the name of religion. She was campaigning for her party candidate Kishori Lal Sharma, who is taking on Union Minister Smriti Irani. Addressing seven public meetings in Jagdishpur, Tiloi and Gauriganj, Priyanka reminded Amethi voters about the decades-old link of her family with this constituency. She alleged that PM Modi is trying to mislead the people in the name of religion. Priyanka listed out the work done by her father Late Rajiv Gandhi in Amethi and alleged that PM Modi has cut himself off from the common man and was only busy taking out road shows and waving to peoplefrom a distance. Priyanka alleged that for the first time a Prime Minister has stooped to a low level in political discourse. UP CM Yogi Adityanath responded to Priyanka’s allegations Yogi said, here is a PM who has changed the face of Varanasi by carrying out major development work and his performance was being compared with Rajiv Gandhi’s. Yogi told voters how people in Varanasi waited for five hours on both sides of the road to welcome Modi when he took out his road show. On the other hand, Yogi alleged that Late Rajiv Gandhi did nothing big for Amethi, and because of this the shehzade (prince) had to run away from the constituency to Kerala. Priyanka Gandhi alleged that Union Minister Smriti Irani did nothing great for the people of Amethi and her sole aim was to raise her political status after defeating Rahul Gandhi. She told Amethi voters not to commit the same mistake again. Responding to this, Yogi said, Rahul Gandhi lacked vision and he has been a failure as a people’s representative. Yogi said, while Smriti Irani regularly visited Amethi several times during the last five years, not a single member of Gandhi family visited the constituency in the last five years. The battle in Amethi is a matter of prestige, both for BJP and Congress, and this is the reason why Priyanka Gandhi is focusing on this constituency. Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge will visit Amethi on Wednesday. Former Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot has been given the charge in Amethi to finetune the electoral process for the party. Gehlot and his team have set up camps in Amethi, but local Congress leaders feel that it is an uphill battle for them. Some of these leaders say, even Rae Bareli, from where Rahul Gandhi is contesting, is not safe any more. Former Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel has been given the charge to look after the Congress campaign in Rae Bareli, where BJP has fielded Dinesh Pratap Singh. On Tuesday, the BJP candidate Dinesh Pratap Singh described Sonia, Priyanka and Rahul as “fake Gandhis”. He said, the family has taken Gandhi surname only to fool voters and grab votes. In Rae Bareli, Rahul Gandhi told an election meeting on Monday that his family had a nearly century-old connection with this area, when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru led the farmers’ movement of Awadh during British rule. On Tuesday evening, Rahul Gandhi shared a video with his mother Sonia, where both the leaders describe their family’s deep connections with both Amethi and Rae Bareli. They also mentioned the major projects that were undertaken in both these constituencies. The mother-son duo also reminded people of what Pandit Nehru, Indira and Rajiv Gandhi did for Amethi and Rae Bareli. Sonia also mentioned how Feroze Gandhi was elected to Parliament from Rae Bareli in 1952 and 1957. Congress is now fighting the battle for its existence in Uttar Pradesh. In 2014, the party won only two LS seats – Amethi and Rae Bareli. In 2019, Rahul lost to Smriti Irani by more than 50,000 votes and only Sonia Gandhi retained her Rae Bareli seat. This time, Sonia is not contesting due to poor health and she has opted to get elected to Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan. Under these circumstances, the Congress is fighting in both Amethi and Rae Bareli with its back to the wall. Old family associate K L Sharma has been fielded from Amethi, after Rahul opted to contest from Rae Bareli. If the party loses both LS seats, UP will become “Congress-Mukt”. BJP is working towards achieving this objective and the Gandhi-Nehru family is very much wary of losing both the seats. Emotional talk about heritage and family relationships are, therefore, being made by Congress leaders in their rallies. Rahul Gandhi, on his part, is hopeful of Congress getting the required oxygen from his ally Akhilesh Yadav.

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