A day after Congress President Rahul Gandhi lost in his home turf of Amethi against Union Minister and BJP candidate Smriti Irani, local people blamed the party's turncoats and local leaders for the rout.
Krishna Tiwari, who had joined the BJP leaving Congress in 2015 told IANS, "Several Congress leaders leaving the party made things worse for the Congress as they joined the ruling BJP in the last five years."
He said besides Congress leaders, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party leaders who also switched to the saffron party in the last few years proved a turning point for the BJP.
Giving examples of the leaders who had switched to the BJP, Tiwari said, "From Salon Assembly constituency, the Congress's forward face and former MLC Dinesh Pratap Singh has switched sides to the BJP and contested against Sonia Gandhi."
He said, Shiv Balak Pasi of the Congress had also joined the BJP. "And after his death, his wife Kamla Devi has also joined the BJP," he said.
Rakesh Singh, a local Congress leader, said that the Congress as an organisation is very weak in Amethi as compared to the BJP. "If they were not weak here, then how did they lose four out of five Assembly seats in the 2017 Assembly election," he said.
He said that the four BJP MLAs got votes for the BJP in Amethi making a huge dent in Congress votes.
He said, "Chandra Prakash Mishra, formerly of the BSP, who contested against Rahul Gandhi in 2004 and got close to 1 lakh votes, had joined the BJP. And Mishra's joining the BJP gave an edge to the saffron party as he had a good command over the backward and Dalit votes in Amethi."
Rakesh Singh said that Dalits and OBCs constitute about 58 per cent of the total population of Amethi, while Thakurs and Brahmins constitute over 26 per cent and Muslims over 16 per cent.
Others who have joined the BJP in the past five years include Jang Bahadur Singh (Congress), Dhiru Tripathi (Congress and then SP), ex-Samajwadi Party MLA Gajadhar Singh, former Congress and BSP leader Ashish Tripathi, SP leader Rajesh Masala and ex-BSP leader Sriram Krantikari.
Farman Haider, a local resident of Musafirkhana constituency on the other hand blamed the local Congress leaders for Rahul Gandhi's defeat in Amethi.
He said the local leaders like Deepak Singh, Yogendra Mishra (Amethi Congress President, who resigned earlier in the day) and Chandrakant Dubey did not let Rahul Gandhi connect with the people.
"If he is not allowed to interact with the people of Amethi then how will he come to know about the problems of the people," Haider rued.
Vishun Kumar Singh, a resident of Nara village, said that the absence of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi from Amethi in this election season hurt them badly.
He said, "Earlier Priyanka Gandhi used to camp in Amethi and Rae Bareli and take care of the campaigning. But this time, both of them were busy in campaigning in other parts of the state."
"In their absence the campaigns carried out by the local leaders hardly generated any buzz among the people. Even in their 'padyatras' merely 20-25 people were seen," he said.
Surendra Singh, a resident of Buraulia, the village which was adopted by late Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar of the BJP, said that the Congress chief must introspect why the people did not vote for him this time.
He said, "The roads in his area, scholarships to the students and youths, Kendriya Vidyalaya centre and several schemes brought by Irani in Amethi helped her connect with the masses, especially the youth."
Pointing at the number of visits by Irani in Amethi and Rahul Gandhi, Singh said, "Even after losing in 2014, she came to Amethi over 35 times. She met people personally. And when they went to Delhi, she also remembered their names. While Rahul Gandhi only visited some 15-16 times."
"And the local BJP leaders acted as a bridge between Irani and the people of Amethi to fulfill their demands," he said.
Surendra Singh also said that Rahul Gandhi visited Buraulia three years ago, and in this election season he did not visit at all.
"Why will one vote for such a person who does not visit the people of his constituency?" he added.
Ashok Singh said that "Didi" (Irani) helped people in their testing times. Like when the houses or crops of people or farmers were destroyed in natural calamities she immediately sent help to those families.
Gyan Pratap Singh, owner of the Alok Dhaba, said that Irani has personally connected with the people of Amethi.
For instance, she has personally got over 50,000 people covered under a central government life insurance scheme, besides ensuring benefits under various other initiatives.
Rahul Gandhi, who had remained undefeated on his home turf in the last three general elections of 2004, 2009 and 2014, this time lost by over 55,000 votes.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at email@example.com)
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