Star wars began in Amethi with the fielding of one of its vice presidents by the BJP, a former television star Smriti Irani against the Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi. It is a clear indication that BJP is ready to fight tooth and nail in the electoral battle in the Gandhi bastion. It is going to be one of the most fiercely fought constituencies in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
BJP’s assessment to pit Smriti Irani against Rahul is based on the assumption that the anti-incumbency factor will play in its favour. Interestingly, There is proof of vulnerability; in the last assembly elections, Congress lost three of the five segments in the Amethi constituency therefore one has every right to believe that this time around it is not going to be a cakewalk for Rahul despite all-time ally Samajwadi Party has refused to field any candidate in Amethi thereby giving some respite to Congress. Aam Admi Party, on the other hand, has also fielded Kumar Vishwas in Amethi who has already begun his groundwork.
The India’s top contest and a critical battle in Amethi would see actor, poet and a scion contesting against each other. AAP candidate is bewildered that the BJP candidate, Smriti Irani, will only divide the anti-congress votes and make Rahul’s road to victory relatively easier. They believe that BJP, who came in third position in the last Lok Sabha elections, is no match to Rahul and only cuts into the votes of anti-congress thereby significantly affecting their chances of registering a victory.
Smriti Irani’s induction into the election fray against Rahul Gandhi is a great spin and twist in the battleground of Amethi. Isn’t the poll fight in Amethi merely symbolic than real? Whatever the reality is, Smriti is preparing to give it a fight in Amethi under the BJP umbrella whereas Kumar Vishwas has a history of making demeaning remarks which could only ruin his chances of creating a major upset. It is true that it would be an extremely difficult task to unseat Rahul from Amethi.
BJP candidate alleges that if Rahul is indeed concerned about development, why could not he spend the money allotted for local development and did not raise a single question in Parliament. Sanjay Singhm who was to contest from Amethi as an independent candidate, suddenly got a Rajya Sabha seat from Assam on the behest of Congress. If Rahul was not so scared of his defeat why did he mollify Sanjay Singh for a seat in Rajya Sabha ? Congress on the other hand says Rahul’s victory is a foregone conclusion and virtually there is no challenge either from BJP or AAP candidates. Smriti’s relevance will only be judged once the results are declared. One has to watch and see if the Smriti versus Rahul fight gets as close as Sonia versus Sushma Swaraj in Bellary when Sonia scraped through with just a meagre 45000 votes.
Experts estimate that the BJP nominee is a very articulate campaigner and the party has made a intelligent choice in pitting her against the star campaigner of Congress. A fierce fight is going to be witnessed in Amethi even after a late entry into the fray by Smriti. SP-Congress alliance are playing a safe game altogether in Uttar Pradesh where Congress is either putting up a weak candidate or staying away altogether from coming up against SP’s star candidates.
When asked “if she has become a scapegoat having been pitted against a tough candidate”, Smriti said with a smile that she loves to take on a challenge inside the enemies den and giving a fight to bigwigs is somewhat refreshing.