NEW DELHI: The run-up to the Lok Sabha polls in Nehru-Gandhi pocketborough of Amethi, has turned glamorous with the entry of Smriti ‘Tulsi’ Irani– a household name among the TV viewers for her role in a popular sitcom– who will take on sitting MP and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
And political commentators have billed the high-profile poll battle a contest between the ‘bahu’ and the ‘beta’. The third contender in the fray from Amethi is Kumar Vishwas of the AAP. But Smriti’s entry has virtually pushed Kumar out of the frame.
A recent Narendra Modi convert, who was earlier scathing in her criticism of the Gujarat strongman over his failure to check the orgy of violence during the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in his home state, Smriti will, now, sing ‘Na Mo Na Mo’ and become the mascot of Gujarat’s development model!
Apparently, the move to field the popular TV personality in Amethi– she had lost to Union Minister Kabil Sibal in 2009– was part of the BJP strategy to put up formidable candidates against Rahul and Sonia in Amethi and Rae Bareli respectively.
However, despite the best efforts, the BJP had to settle for Supreme Court counsel Ajay Agarwal as its candidate in Rae Bareli against Sonia.
The Congress’ rout in the UP Assembly polls of 2012– which witnessed the defeat of the party candidates in seven out of the 10 Assembly segments that fall within the Amethi and Rae Bareli LS seats– has encouraged both Smriti and Kumar to entertain the thought of a possible upset win against the Congress scion, who never tires of describing himself as the son of the people in the constituency.
According to Kumar, “So far it used to be selection, but this time it is going to be election and I will win”. An equally upbeat Smriti said, “the people of Amethi are fed up with the dynasty culture and this time they want change and I will try to provide it.“
Rahul has also come under attack from the Opposition over his failure to deliver on his promise to provide the BSP(bijli sadak paani).The criticism against the Congress leader is despite the fact that the Congress has remained in political wilderness in UP for well over 25 years now and the responsibility of providing the basic needs of the people rests with the incumbent administration.
To deflect the charge, the Congress V-P has been nursing the constituency by starting several developmental projects aimed at generating employment and increasing the income of the locals, mainly the youth and the farmers.
Meanwhile, Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party(SP) had already declared that it would not put up candidates against Sonia and Rahul and the Congress had reciprocated the gesture by not challenging Mulayam in Mainpuri and his daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav in Kannauj.