During the run-up to the 2014 general elections, when BJP in a very bold move fielded Smriti Irani against the then Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, she was dismissed by many as a ‘scapegoat’. For taking the fall for the party which just wanted to make a statement by fielding someone against the Gandhi scion who was sure to retain his ‘family seat’.
Except for a brief period between 1998-99 when BJP’s Sanjay Sinh won Amethi, the Lok Sabha seat has seen a Congress MP since 1980 when Sanjay Gandhi won it for the first time. After his death, his brother Rajiv Gandhi contested and won from Amethi four times. Afte his death, Congress’ Satish Sharma contested and won Amethi twice. In 1999, Sonia Gandhi won it back and held on to it till 2004. In 2004, Rahul Gandhi forayed into politics by contesting from Amethi. He had been a three-time MP from Amethi.
During the run-up to the 2014 general elections, Rahul Gandhi’s sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was not holding any official post in Congress till then, was campaigning for her brother in Amethi. When she was asked about her reaction to something Smriti had commented on her, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra hit back with an arrogant ‘Who?’
Reporter: Ma’am Smriti Irani has hit back at you again…
Priyanka Gandhi: Who? pic.twitter.com/vRCn5ubjp2
— ANI (@ANI) May 4, 2014
Back in 2014, Priyanka’s arrogance refused to acknowledge Smriti as a contender against her brother.
Dear Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, let me tell you who Smriti Irani.
The one who lost Amethi to your brother in 2014 but managed to bring down the victory margin to little over a lakh. The one who spent last five years strengthening her constituency, ensuring the people she expects to vote her have a reason to do so. Residents of Amethi have credited Irani, the one who lost the seat to your brother, for developmental works undertaken.
Citing Soil lab, urea racks, Reservation counter, Sainik School etc, they say all this has been possible because of Smriti Irani’s commitment to the city. Smriti Irani is also credited for Utretia to Varanasi rail electrification via Amethi, linking Amethi-Rae Bareli to NH and WiFI for devotees at Kalikan Dham.
Smriti who empowered women by providing them with security insurance under the Pradhan Mantri Mahila Suraksha Bima Yojana. Who got a girls’ college in Sangrampur block of Amethi and got approval from state government for women’s hospital in Jamo block.
Who got a record number of toilets and houses built in Amethi, providing the people with the dignity. The basic amenity your brother failed to provide over 70 years after India’s independence. Let that sink in.
Smriti who made your brother run away to Wayanad to a ‘safe seat’ because he got a whiff that he will not be able to hold on to the family bastion for another five years as a ‘missing MP’.
The one who made Amethi ready for a BJP win in the five years. And the one who dethroned your brother.