Union Minister Smriti Irani headed to Amethi and delivered a sharp attack to Rahul Gandhi

NEW DELHI: Rahul Gandhi will file his nomination papers today in Kerala’s Wayanad, the second constituency he is fighting from in the April-May national election, apart from his traditional Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. On cue, Union Minister Smriti Irani headed to Amethi this morning and delivered a sharp attack.

The Congress president had “insulted” Amethi by filing his nomination from a second constituency, said Smriti Irani, who will take on Rahul Gandhi as the BJP candidate from Amethi for the second time.

“This is a big sign that a person who has enjoyed power piggybacking on Amethi for 15 years has left Amethi and is filing his nomination today from some other place. Amethi will never forget the insult and betrayal,” said the BJP leader.

“I want to warn Wayanad. If you want to see Rahul Gandhi’s capabilities as an MP, come and see the state of Amethi. The person who has been betraying Amethi for the last 15 years has come to your place to cheat you.”

As Rahul Gandhi preps to launch his campaign in Wayanad, Smriti Irani has planned a two-day visit in the constituency that has voted for him since 2004, when he contested his first election.

In 2014, Smriti Irani lost but drew satisfaction from the much reduced margin of victory for Rahul Gandhi in a Gandhi family stronghold.

In the past five years, she has repeatedly visited Amethi, a largely rural constituency around 130 km from Lucknow, and launched central government projects like the assault rifle manufacturing unit for which the foundation stone was laid last month by PM Modi.

Smriti Irani’s narrative has been to highlight the Congress leader’s “neglect” of the constituency.

The Congress president’s decision to contest from a second seat bolstered the BJP’s charge that Rahul Gandhi is “running away” because he is unsure of his prospects in Amethi.

The Congress has rubbished the BJP’s allegation, calling the Wayanad move a big southern outreach.

Over the years, Rahul Gandhi’s sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra took charge of the campaign in Amethi as well as neighbouring Raebareli, their mother’s constituency. She confined herself to the two seats and stayed away from active Congress politics.

This time, Priyanka Gandhi is a Congress general secretary, tasked with not two but 41 of Uttar Pradesh’s 80 seats.
Priyanka Gandhi is with Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad, which votes in the third phase of the election on April 23.

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