Amethi (Uttar Pradesh): Rahul Gandhi might be fighting one of his toughest electoral battles in Amethi this time, facing Aam Aadmi Party’s Kumar Vishwas and BJP’s Smriti Irani.
But there are many unknown entities too challenging him in this Gandhi family bastion to improve what many locals say are its “pathetic conditions”.
Most of these parties may not cause any dent in Rahul Gandhi’s prospects in this keenly watched contest, but they claim to be fighting for the poor and backward classes and development of the constituency.
While some parties — launched just a few years back — claim they represent the farmers, others maintain they want to turn Amethi into a five-star place to live in.
Take the example of Gopal Swaroop Gandhi of the Kisan Majdoor Berojgar Sangh who is fighting to better the lot of labourers and farmers by ending corruption.
“If I win, I will work for farmers, labourers and the unemployed. These people don’t have a bargaining chip and practically no voice in our country,” Gandhi, who is the national secretary of his party, told IANS.
Sharing the same famous surname, Gandhi said his party, which was launched in 2011, is fighting polls from Etawah and Amethi.
Pragatisheel Samaj Party’s C.L. Maurya on the other hand aims to provide all benefits to Amethi, which since independence has mostly elected a Congress member.
“My main aim is that people of Amethi should get minimum benefits like government hospitals, schools, railways and toilets at every home,” Maurya told IANS.
The Pragatisheel Samaj Party was launched four years ago and also fought the Delhi assembly election last year.
Maurya refuses to believe he is fighting a losing battle against Rahul Gandhi, Kumar Vishwas and Smriti Irani. “We are also not far behind and our campaigning is running fine,” he said.
Vedpal Shastri, who represents the Vanchit Samaj Insaaf Party, is not very sure of the number of candidates put up by his party in these polls. But he is very sure of his party’s agenda.
“I represent those who don’t have anything. They don’t have a voice in our country,” he said.
The party was registered in 2011.
“People think Amethi being a star constituency is like Singapore and Paris. But actually conditions are pretty pathetic here. The Congress has represented Amethi for nearly 50 years, but still there has been no development,” he added.
For all these parties, however, the Lok Sabha election is a battle for survival in more ways than one.
Gopal Swaroop Gandhi concedes that his party was fighting for its survival. “I have only one car and am using it for all my campaigning.”
“I have in fact borrowed Rs.40,000 to fight the polls,” he added.
The fight in Amethi has mainly emerged as triangular – between Rahul Gandhi, Smriti Irani and Kumar Vishwas. The campaign has seen an aggressive pitch in recent weeks sith Priyanka Gandhi Vadra campaigning for brother Rahul.
Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is likely to address a rally here on May 5 to buttress the chances of Smriti Irani, who has acted in several well-known television serials.
Amethi goes to polls on May 7.
(Sreeparna Chakrabarty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)