We are ambivalent about the overall outcome in this general elections but not so about specific cases. It is our fervent wish that in the coming ballot in Uttar Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi (INC) loses from Amethi, and so does Sonia Gandhi (INC- Rae Bareilly), Varun Gandhi (BJP- Sultanpur) and Narendra Modi (BJP- Varanasi). This is the only time the voters can deliver a bloody nose and it is high time they do so in a very powerful and symbolic manner.
the Ramlila grounds in Nasirabad, the weekly vegetable market is on.
Clad in sneakers, salwar-kurta and a BJP cap, Anu Chaudhary, the state
chief of BJP’s women’s unit in Haryana, distributes campaign material
and pamphlets to vegetable vendors. “You have a right to development. If
Amethi is a VIP constituency, question the vote-seekers on how your
lives have improved,” she says. People hear her out. Then someone asks,
“Are you Priyanka?”
Hours later with a generator powering the
mike, in the same grounds, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra talks about the Gandhis
bringing electricity to Amethi. The mike fails several times and people
complain. “In this area, electricity supply is nearly non-existent.
She’s talking about educational institutions but we do not have an
inter-college,” Mohd Iqbal, a fruit vendor said. Priyanka acknowledges
that there are complaints but says it was the opposition that foiled
attempts to bring power.
In Gauriganj, the headquarters of
Amethi district, senior administrative officials are discussing the
latest entrant into Amethi’s political fray, BJP’s Smriti Irani. At
least a few times, she is referred to as Tulsi, TV’s most popular bahu, a
role Irani played about eight years ago before she entered politics.
“Her arrival created quite a stir in the initial days. As a celebrity, she drew large crowds,” says one of them. Traveling more than 200km every day, Irani has stationed herself in
Amethi since early April and plans to stay till May 7, polling day.
With the help of the Sangh Parivar, Irani has begun sharing space with
Priyanka in drawing room discussions over politics. Nudging the real
contestant – Rahul Gandhi – out of the picture, people say Amethi’s 2014
electoral battle is all about the real beti versus the reel bahu.
The beti invokes all that the first family has done for the people of
Amethi in the many decades it has ruled; the bahu harps on everything
else they could have done, but didn’t. Both are using more than just
celebrity-hood and charm to strengthen their election campaigns. In
Irani’s case, she has craftily kept the old Jan Sangh hands close,
knowing they can help her build her base. In a more personal gesture,
Irani applies tilak to every supporter who goes out campaigning for her.
Anu Chaudhary, the Haryana unit volunteer, said, “Our focus is on
making personal contact with people. We’re touching villages the Gandhis
have not visited even once in all these years.”
As Irani goes
on a mission to bring down a 40-year dynastic rule, Priyanka is hard at
work trying to fortify it. Spending 15 hours daily campaigning, she’s
been on door-to-door visits, addressed corner meetings and made
unscheduled halts at villages.