Amethi (AME): Union Minister Smriti Irani on Tuesday (May 26) added the next chapter to the continuing saga of alleged neglect of Amethi — as claimed by Rahul Gandhi — by providing a rake of urea fertilizer to Amethi as promised by her during her earlier visit on May 12.
The promise was kept on the day when she visited Amethi to address a rally as part of the 200 nationwide rallies to mark one year of the Narendra Modi government.
A day earlier, Prime Minister Modi himself had addressed a huge gathering in Mathura where he held forth on his commitment to the cause of the poor and the downtrodden.
Rahul Gandhi, the Congress MP from Amethi, had paid a three-day visit from May 18 to 20, when he had alleged that the Modi government was indulging in “politics of vengeance” by the alleged cancellation of a mega food park (MFP) project in Amethi. Even though the truth behind the MFP cancellation lies beneath piles of government documents, Irani, who is the Union Minister for Human Resources Development, sought to assert that she and the Central government meant what they said.
In a strategic move, a goods train rake of urea arrived at Gauriganj railway station in Rae Bareli on Monday night, hours before Irani’s arrival. The fertilizer is expected to meet the needs of more than 3 lakh farmers of the district.
Irani told waiting mediapersons at Lucknow’s Amausi airport before driving to Amethi: “What Rahul Gandhi could not do in ten years, our government has done in ten days.”
She had also promised during her May 12 visit that she would deposit the premium for 25,000 people of Amethi for the Pradhan Mantri Beema Suraksha Yojana, and that a rake of fertilizer, as demanded by local farmers, would arrive in Amethi soon.
There was a big crowd waiting for her as she arrived in Salon and the people welcomed her with drumbeats, slogans and dances. She addressed meetings in Gauriganj, Jagdishpur and Tiloi during the day. Despite the sweltering heat and dust, huge crowds had collected to listen to her.
In her address at many roadside meetings, Irani said it was unbelievable that residents of Amethi and Rae Bareli had to “struggle for generations for a railway line, whereas we have initiated the project of Amethi-Unchahar railway line,” she said.
She also reminded the people of Amethi of another promise she had made when she had accompanied Modi on an election tour last year. “People had questioned me whether Narendra Modi and Smriti Irani will remember them. By our actions we have proved that we kept our promise,” she added. “It is unfortunate,” she said, “that the love that Amethi’s people have given to politicians has never been returned.”
She then assured the people that she would pay the insurance premium of 25,000 people – 5,000 in each of the five constituents of Amethi – and said “I promise my sisters in Amethi that before Diwali, I myself will pay for their Suraksha Bima Yojana.”
She described herself as Amethi’s daughter, “I have accepted Amethi as my family, and this has worried some people,” she said in an unnamed reference to the Gandhi family.
Both Amethi and adjoining Rae Bareli have traditionally been Gandhi family seats and were the only two constituencies that the Congress won in the national election in Uttar Pradesh. Irani had contested unsuccessfully against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi 2014 but had given him a tough fight, securing nearly 3 lakh votes.
In her last visit on May 12, she had addressed many Kisan Panchayats (farmers’ gatherings) where she had tried to dispel doubts over the land acquisition Bill. She had also ridiculed Rahul by saying it was interesting that a sitting MP was asking the defeated candidate to fulfill a promise for this constituency.
During a public meeting, some BJP supporters even raised a demand that Irani be projected as the chief ministerial candidate for UP in case the party won the 2017 Assembly election. Local reports suggest that in view of Irani’s reputation of being a Union minister close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and her ability to fulfill the promise of fertilizer availability, the local BJP leaders are now planning to put forth some more demands that could be fulfilled easily. These include a potato-based agro processing unit for the district, a soil testing laboratory, and road construction.
Action has been initiated to set up a Kisan Vigyan Kendra and a railway line between Amethi and Unchahar. The district BJP president Durgesh Tripathi has been quoted as saying that the people in Amethi have now realized that years of reposing their trust in one family had yielded them nothing.
Sources in the BJP said it is likely that Modi might be invited to inaugurate some schemes in Amethi that obviously would not be named after any icon of the Nehru-Gandhi family. “Rahul will find it difficult to include those schemes in his achievements for the constituency,” said a state BJP leader.