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In Amethi, Modi factor keeps Smriti Irani afloat, Gandhi hand steadies aide’s boat

Amethi ka vikas se kya vasta, aur yahan pratyashi se kya lena dena (What has Amethi got to do with development or who the candidate is)?”

Raj Murti Singh, 68, an LIC agent, is not being ironic. The constituency which becomes the cynosure of all eyes come elections is aware of its “VVIP” status, right at the heart of the 2024 poll contest. There is a sense of disappointment that the fireworks which a repeatRahul Gandhi vs Smriti Irani contest would have ensured are missing. But there is also resignation that once Amethi votes on May 20, and the cameras turn away, it will return to its state of gentle decay.

At the same time, the contest has a new edge this time: of a fight between a so-called “chaprasi (peon)” and a Union minister.

Where K L Sharma is the faceless Congress poll manager who has spent 40 years managing the Gandhis’ poll campaigns here, and thus been dubbed “chaprasi” by the BJP. And where Irani is seen as the minister who fought her way into the limelight – and is happiest in it.

If Sharma’s Gandhi devotion is both his strongest – and weakest – points, BJP workers talk in hushed tones about Irani’s “high handedness”, and how it might cost them.

The BJP is hoping to override that anger by talking about development works like roads under “Modi and Yogi (the Prime Minister and Chief Minister)”, and accusing Rahul of “abandoning” the constituency after his 2019 loss to Irani. The fact that even Priyanka Gandhi Vadra did not pick up the baton in Amethi is another proof of the same for the BJP.

However, in this largely rural constituency, there doesn’t seem to be any “vikas ka vote (vote of development)” or even a Gandhi family
vote. People are either voting for “rashtra” or “desh” (the country, and hence for Irani)

Read more on indianexpress.com