A district BJP functionary explained in a hushed tone that the arrival of Rajya Sabha MP and former TV star Smriti Irani had helped galvanise the party's local cadre, and that BJP would move up from being the fourth to that of the runner-up. He said the people of Amethi were aware that Amethi had got a national profile as it was the constituency of the Nehru-Gandhis, and that if someone else were to take over, it would be reduced to an ordinary constituency like any other in Uttar Pradesh. It was this desire for a place in the sun that made the people of Amethi vote for Rahul Gandhi, he said.
He also felt the BJP should have announced the name of Smriti Irani much earlier than it did so that she could have spend more time in the constituency. He pointed out that Kumar Vishwas of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had been here for four months and had been engaged in door-to-door campaign. He, however, is confident Irani would leave him behind.
The complaint against Congress is that there isn't any industrialisation or job opportunities for the locals here. There are public and private sector units in Jagdishpur, which is part of the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency, like Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the Indo-Gulf Fertilisers, which is a Birla-owned company, and the Associated Cement Company (ACC), but most of the employees in these factories are from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra.
There was one Malvika Steel Plant, a private sector enterprise, which was set up at a cost of Rs 12,000 crore and a subsidy component of Rs 4,000 crore. But it is now closed and hundreds of employees have been left in the lurch.
The more poignant complaint heard in Amethi is that there is no direct train or bus connection to Allahabad, which is still considered the seat of learning in these parts. And this becomes ironical because Allahabad is the ancestral home of Rahul Gandhi.
The caste composition of the constituency too is complex. There are 22% Dalit voters, 11% Muslims, 14% Rajputs and 17% Brahmins. The remaining belong to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
Despite the murmurs of protest from the few active in the BJP and other opposition party circles, it is conceded that Rahul Gandhi will win the election. The story in the assembly elections was quite different though. Of the five assembly constituencies that form part of the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency, three are with the Samajwadi Party and two with the Congress. The monopoly of the Nehru-Gandhi may not remain unchallenged in the future.
Congress supporters point out that all the opposition giants, including Sharad Yadav, Kanshiram, Maneka Gandhi, Sanjay Singh (now with Congress) and Vedanti of the BJP have had to bite the dust in Amethi.