The ultimate test of the value of a political system is whether it helps that society to establish conditions which improve the standard of living for the majority of its people – Lee Kyan Yew (Former Prime Minister of Singapore)
Singapore is a classic example of the perfect ‘Rags to Riches’ story. It transformed from a country devoid of natural resources and ravaged by unemployment into a country that has often topped the world’s best list. The Country has seen tremendous economic progress since 1970 owing to decisive leadership and gutsy reforms. Now, dubbed as the Monaco of the East, Singapore has seen sustainable development in just about 25 years, approximately the same time that the Gandhi Family has been contesting from Amethi (1981-91: Rajeev Gandhi, 1999-2004: Sonia Gandhi, 2004-2019: Rahul Gandhi).
Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s positive obsession to turn Dubai into a Global city transformed it from an arid desert into a fastest growing immigrant city in the world. In 2010, he launched the UAE vision 2021 with the aim of making UAE one of the best countries in the world by 2021. Dubai has seen sustainable infrastructure and tourism upgrades like the Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab hotel, Dubai Internet City, Dubai International Finance Centre, Palm Islands and many more destinations. Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing released its annual visitor figures showing that Dubai attracted 14.9 million overnight visitors in 2016. Dubai accounts for 66% of the tourism industry’s contribution to UAE’s GDP. This industry represents 20% of Dubai’s GDP and accounts for approximately 6% of total employment. This is not a mean feat.
Our very own city of Kutch rehabilitated and renewed itself into India’s Midnight Oasis after an earthquake devastated it in 2001. The common factor behind all these successful transformations is the decisive leadership of a visionary leader. Whether it is Lee Kuan Yew in case of Singapore, Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s for Dubai, or Narendra Modi behind Kutch, the essence of true leadership is reflected in their outcomes.
If such massive nations can be built in 20 years then why Amethi can’t be made into a world class constituency.
Developmental parameters of Amethi
Amethi is a district in Northern Indian State of Uttar Pradesh and a Lok Sabha constituency. Amethi’s reputation precedes itself. It is by no means distinguished in any developmental sector like education, healthcare, Infrastructure, Tourism or Manufacturing. So why is every Indian familiar with this name? It is because of its ‘rich heritage’ of its Members of the Parliament, the heritage of the Gandhi family.
With no offence to nepotism, the good people of Amethi have been voting generations of Gandhi family into the highest echelons of power in India. It is often defined as the Fortress of the Gandhi Nehru Family. So is the Fort crumbling now? To study this we shift our focus to the Forever ‘Young, Dynamic, coming of age’ MP of Amethi Shri Rahul Gandhi.
The above table compares Amethi district on various parameters of development like access to clean drinking water, sanitation, electricity, access to toilets in schools (especially for females), per capita income and other parameters. It has been found that Amethi not only lags behind its counterpart districts but also nationally on various critical development parameters.
Amethi as a constituency has been Nehru-Gandhi bastion since 1980’s and in spite of this; today it is no better than a backward district.
Surat: A Case Study for Model Development
Surat, in spite of the Plague outbreak in 1994, has come a long way to become the fastest developing city in the world. Bloomberg which has prepared a list of the fastest growing cities in the world 2019-35, predicts the top 10 will be from India. Significant development of large-scale industries has taken place within and around the Surat metropolitan area in recent years, and a number of units manufacturing chemicals and plastics have come up. Some of the major industries that have come up in and around Surat such as a major port at Hazira, petrochemical refinery, natural gas, cement, steel plant etc., with a total investment of about Rs. 1,00,000 million.
So what are the options available for developing Amethi into a modern city? One of the alternatives is to see what the dynamic leader Smriti Irani has to offer on the other side of this political battleground.
In 2014 elections Smriti Irani lost Amethi Lok Sabha elections to Rahul Gandhi with a margin of nearly 1 lakh votes. 1 lakh votes would be sufficient to drive away any competition. However, as they say, true leaders always continue to support behind the scenes, Smriti Irani has continuously steered her support for the progressive development of Amethi. Unlike Arvind Kejriwal (who had abandoned Varanasi after losing elections against Narendra Modi), the zeal of Smriti Irani hasn’t stopped contributing to the welfare of Amethi.
So the basis of this article lies on the comparison of contributions of both Rahul Gandhi and Smriti Irani for the welfare of Amethi. The comparison here is between an MP, whose full responsibility is the advancement of his own constituency and a central minister who has undertaken a massive responsibility of 1.3 billion people and has many such constituencies to serve. Although the situation favours Rahul Gandhi, Let’s see who emerges the winner.
Smriti Irani’s Contributions to Amethi: Work behind the scenes
Below are few of the tasks undertaken by Smriti Irani for the welfare of Amethi. The fact check of these tasks is based on reports, press articles and videos published by the various media.
- Approval to Soil testing laboratory and Krishi Vijnan Kendra for Amethi district
- The yield of farmers from Amethi affected by hail storms was sold even when it was in bad condition.
- 100,000 (one lac) fruit trees were distributed in Gauriganj, Jagdishpur, Tiloi and Amethi through Khushhali Foundation, Bareli Uttar Pradesh.
- Along with the Agriculture MOS Dr Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, families of entire Amethi district and affected farmers and Kisan Panchayat were given Rs. 25,000 (twenty-five thousand) as compensation.
- 580 metric ton Nimboli seeds were purchased under Nim project.
- Separate arrangements for reservation counter, ticket section, inquiry office for passenger facility on Gauriganj Railway Station
- Better passenger facilities given on Amethi railway station.
- Approval to railway under the bridge in Amethi and Mahaso
- Approval for a high-level platform on Gauriganj railway station
- Approval for the budget for Amethi- Unwahar railway line from Sultanpur
- The trial for the Rail Neer scheme started, Established in 2014 at the cost of INR 8 crore, this plant has the capacity to produce 72,000 bottles of Rail Neer per day, giving earning potential to around 100 people
- Approval for doubling the railway line from Bachharawan to Pratapgarh. Work started.
- Electrification of the railway line from Bachharawan to Pratapgarh.
- Funds allotted for doubling and electrifying Utaretiya Varanasi line via Rae Bareli and Amethi
- Bani, Jayas and Gauriganj stations in Amethi were given the status of ideal railway stations.
- Approval to Central School in Gauriganj.
- Women’s Security insurance of 25,000 women done in Amethi district under Pradhan Mantri Mahila Suraksha Bima Yojna.
- Security insurance of 25,000 people done in Amethi district under Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojna.
- Approval for a military school in Amethi and work started with the fund of Rs. 121 crores.
- A satellite branch of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Lucknow was established
- Rajeev Gandhi Petroleum University, Jayas Tiloi, district Amethi was completed with the fund of Rs. 360 crores from NDA Government and was publically launched.
- Approval was given to girls’ college in Sangrampur block of Amethi.
- Liking of working women, men, youth and students from Amethi Loksabha constituency with Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOUR) and establishing National Open University Institute.
- Directed to convert national highway no. 56 from Lucknow to Varanasi into a 6- lane
- Ambedkar Nagar via Fatehpur, Lalganj, Raibareli, Amethi and Sultanpur declared as the national highway for connecting Rae Bareli and Amethi through national highways. The fund also allotted and directions given to complete the work in one year.
- Passenger rest places were provided in all major pilgrimage centres, railway stations, bus stands in Amethi Loksabha constituency.
- Approval to the dam by National Flood Calamity Management Board for stopping the cutting of Gomati River in Haliyapur and Pipri
- Approval to around 250 India Mark hand pumps in entire Amethi Loksabha constituency in collaboration with CSR and task started to install them
- Matiyarikalan’s Mr Abhishek was brought back from Malaysia
- Assistance was given with prompt efforts by helping people with cancer, heart diseases and serious diseases.
- After receiving applications from local people from entire Amethi, admissions were given in Amethi district and in entire the country in central schools.
- Every possible assistance given by Samrat Cycle to the farmers displaced
- The residence was given to 2500 rural people under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (Rural).
- Distribution of cards to 1500 individual dignified beneficiaries under Swachch Bharat.
- Distribution of relief material to affected families in fire incidents every year. Up to now, around two thousand families were helped.
- Distribution of Divyang Jan assistance equipment to 1492 Divyang persons.
- Approval from the State Government for women’s medical hospital centre in Jamo block with 200 beds.
- Approval of a multipurpose building on Amethi railway station and the work for allocating funds is in progress.
- Distribution of approval letters for the grant of 4 lacs under Daivi Apda (Unfortunate Calamity relief scheme).
- The public launch of TB unit in the district hospital, Amethi.
- Public inauguration of Primary Health Centre Odari, Tiloi.
- Public inauguration of the community Health centre, Bajar Shukla.
- Bhoomi Poojan for C. H. C. centre, Amethi.
- Public inauguration of primary health centres in Saintha and Jethu Mavai
- Prime Minister Kaushal Centre was started in Jamo Gauriganj.
- Distribution of 25 thousand Saris to women from entire Amethi Loksabha constituency
Although her duties are limited to the portfolios assigned to her (Human Resource Development, Information and Broadcasting and Textiles), her role extends to initiatives to introduce soil testing lab and promote plantation programme for the benefit of Amethi farmers.
Keeping in mind the NDA government’s emphasis on infrastructure, Smriti Irani has taken sufficient efforts to improve rail and road connectivity of the constituency. Smriti Irani also took approval from National Flood Calamity Management for the dam at Haliyapur and Pipri. She ensured that all government schemes effectively reached Amethi.
The healthcare sector was given a lot of importance in Amethi. Approval was granted for a 200 Bed hospital in Amethi and few health centres were established in Amethi. The initiatives mentioned above are in line with the publications and video news of the National Media. Overall we can say that Smriti Irani has taken considerable efforts to introduce many developments in the timespan of 4 years for the welfare of Amethi.
Rahul Gandhi Contributions to Amethi: The Throne of Power
- Started Indira Gandhi Eye Hospital and Research Centre to provide affordable ophthalmologic care and serve the purpose of blindness cure
- Started Indira Gandhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences to provide paramedical courses to students
- Setup Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Kendras to promote facilitate computer literacy among students of Amethi
- Established Indira Gandhi School and College of Nursing to provide nursing education. It provides nursing courses at diploma and degree level
- Started Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology at Amethi to provide Petroleum Engineering courses. The institute offers Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree programs, PG diploma courses and Doctoral programs in Petroleum Technology and Management in phases.
- Setup extension branch of IIIT Allahabad at Amethi
- Set up the Footwear Design and Development Institute to promote footwear design and manufacturing operations in Amethi
- Upgraded 5 model stations as Ideal model stations
- Constructed Railway Over Bridge at Gauriganj
- Started two trains to Lucknow via Amethi. MEMU Sultanpur-Lucknow, via Amethi and Rae Bareli – A 12 coach train, with a capacity to carry 2,400 and DEMU Pratapgarh-Lucknow, via Amethi and Rae Bareli
- Undertook project of doubling railway line from Amethi to Rae Bareli. A 60 Km long line was sanctioned at cost of 285 Crore
- Amethi-Unchahar line was sanctioned at cost of 380 Crore which measures 66 km in length
Rahul Gandhi has introduced a few notable developments in Amethi. Some colleges have started in Amethi to boost education facilities among the students. The transport facilities have been upgraded to improve connectivity. But the progress doesn’t match up with the potential development that could be done in Amethi considering the timespan.
We see that, from the above data, in 15 years Rahul has 12 major achievements whereas in 4 years Smriti has a staggering 46 achievements. All the data was gathered from information available in the public domain.
The contention of the article here is not to debate on “who’s the best” blindly, but whether their contributions are equitable or not.
Leaders understand that it’s not about enriching themselves but to benefit the people they serve. While the mother-son duo helmed Amethi for 20 years, Smriti has had a mere 4 years. Amethi has been responsible for escorting the Gandhis to corridors of power and what have they done to thank it, reward it. While in power, neither Sonia nor Rahul held any portfolios in the centre. They could have used that time to transform Amethi into something spectacular. Even if the progress of foreign nations is overlooked, one can still take a leaf out of Surat’s or Kutch’s books. People of Amethi still struggle for basic amenities like running water or electricity. Don’t they deserve better?
The work done by Congress may seem worthy, but is it what Amethi is expecting for past 20 years? On the contrary, the weight of Smriti’s contributions for the last 4 years is significantly higher. If this can happen in 4 years on losing side, imagine how it would be if she was MP for the next 5 years.
In such a big-ticket election we have seen the vanquished return to shadows, but here we see a resurgent Smriti Irani ready to take responsibility for the constituency that once rejected her. As a true leader, she knows that the people are much bigger than her and she needs to work hard to gain their trust.
It is evident from the fact that all 4 Vidhan Sabha seats in Amethi district are BJP ruled, So why not at the Centre too. The decision is up to the people of Amethi, Whether they want their next leader to be an entitled prince who has shown a morbid propensity for slow-paced development or a Visionary who is ready to overhaul the constituency to new heights of progress.
Note: Smriti Irani and Rahul Gandhi’s achievements have been taken from publicly available information available. We have tried our best to be balanced in covering achievements of both Rahul Gandhi and Smriti Irani. If we have failed to include any developmental work done by either Rahul Gandhi or Smriti Irani, we would be happy to rectify ourselves if such information is made available to us.
Head – Project Management Office (Projects, Corporate Relations and Media), for Minister of Finance & Planning, Forests – Government of Maharashtra.