In the history of Indian elections, Amethi has been the ‘safe’ seat for the Gandhi family and the Congress party. Since the 1960s, it has always been won by a Congress candidate, except on two brief occasions. It has been the constituency that sent Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to the Parliament.
However, things look different in 2019 Lok Sabha elections as Rahul Gandhi faces a stiff challenge from BJP’s Smriti Irani.
Voter situation in Amethi Constituency
Rahul Gandhi has contested from Amethi since 2004 and has always won comfortably. He never faced any stiff competition in Amethi except in 2014 from BJP’s Smriti Irani.
Rahul got close to 4 lakh votes in every election but in 2014, his vote percentage fell sharply to 46%.
Before 2014, BJP was always stuck at single digit vote percentages. However, in 2014, BJP made a remarkable foray into the Gandhi bastion and Smriti Irani ended up getting 34% of the votes.
In 2014, Rahul secured 4 lakh votes again but Smriti Irani also reached close at 3 lakh votes. The loss margin for a non-Congress government had been substantially reduced to only about 1 Lac. This was unprecedented in the constituency of Amethi.
With the above numbers as baseline reference from 2014, the following changes are expected to impact voting in 2019.
Factors that may reduce Rahul Gandhi’s votes
Haroon Rasheed, son of a longtime Congress member Sultan Khan has reportedly abandoned Congress and is contesting as an independent candidate from Amethi. His father was reported to be a strong influencer in Amethi. He was also the proposer for Rajiv Gandhi’s and Sonia Gandhi’s nominations in earlier elections.
A large section of his supporters who would have voted for Rahul would now vote for Haroon Rasheed, thus bringing down Rahul’s votes. The moving away of a Congress strongman may as well push Congress from the edge of defeat to the abyss of loss.
Factors that may increase Smriti Irani’s votes
Mayawati’s BSP has declared to not field any candidate from Amethi, apparently to support Congress.
BSP traditionally secures about 90 thousand votes in Amethi in every election. In 2014, BSP secured lower votes at 60 thousand but Dr Kumar Vishwas of AAP also got 25 thousand votes.
In 2019, AAP is not expected to get many votes and BSP is not fielding any candidates. These 90 thousand votes would shift to Congress or BJP.
It must be noted that these are the voters who have never supported Rahul Gandhi and have always voted against him even in his home turf.
Hence, it might be reasonable to believe that a good part of these 90 thousand votes may get transferred to Smriti Irani, thus bringing up her vote count.
Other than the arithmetic, the fact that Minister Smriti Irani has worked tirelessly in the constituency is bound to play a massive role in how the chips fall on 23rd May 2019. While Rahul Gandhi has hardly returned to Amethi after his victory in 2014, Smriti Irani, despite her loss, went back to Amethi several times to work for the people of the constituency. The track record of what Rahul Gandhi did in Amethi for the past 10 years compared to what Smriti Irani did in the constituency only in the last 4 years speak for themselves.
Indian voters can be completely unpredictable. Hence actual outcome cannot be predicted with certainty. However, based on the above numbers, it is reasonable to believe that in 2019, Rahul Gandhi may end up securing less than 4 lakh votes and Smriti Irani may end up securing more than 3 lakh votes.
Depending on the quantum of that difference, either it would be a close win for Rahul Gandhi (not a facile victory as it has always been) or Smriti Irani may go down in history as the politician who ousted Congress’s party President and Prime Minister candidate from his home constituency.