Setting its sights on Amethi, a team of BJP leaders, led by party chief Amit Shah, descended on the Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday accusing its MP Rahul Gandhi of neglect and inaccessibility, and appealed to the people to give the BJP a chance in the next elections in 2019. At a time when the Congress vice-president is touring Gujarat, Mr. Shah advised him to instead focus on Amethi.
Stating that the people of Gujarat were aware of the development brought in by the BJP-ruled government as well as the works of the Narendra Modi-led Centre, Mr. Shah asked Mr. Gandhi to explain why Amethi had failed to develop despite having three generations of MPs from the Nehru-Gandhi family. “You seek an account of our three years [in power], Rahul baba? What did Modiji do in three years. The people of Amethi seek an account of three generations from you,” Mr. Shah said at a rally in Gauriganj in Amethi.
The BJP leaders, including Union Minister Smriti Irani, who was runner-up from the seat in 2014, made several references to the 2019 Lok Sabha election, in a clear indication that the BJP was preparing the ground to attempt to dislodge Mr. Gandhi from his bastion. The programme came a day after a senior Congress leader from Amethi, Jung Bahadur Singh, joined the BJP.
The BJP chief exhorted voters in Amethi to abandon the Nehru-Gandhi family, saying any real steps towards change and development had come there only after the BJP captured power at the Centre in 2014 and the State in 2017.
“There will be a change in Amethi in 2019. When we come to seek votes then, we won’t come with promises but present to you things we have already done,” Mr. Shah said.
The electoral messaging for 2019 behind Mr. Shah’s verbal attacks on Mr. Gandhi was clear with his lauding of Ms. Irani, who gave the Congress leader a close fight in 2014, reducing his margin considerably. Mr. Shah said Ms. Irani had ‘embraced’ Amethi ‘like a child’ despite losing the election.