Reported By: Pallavi Ghosh
Last Updated: February 13, 2024, 16:38 IST
Smriti Irani won the Amethi seat in 2019, in a jolt to Rahul Gandhi and the Congress.
Smriti Irani’s griha pravesh of her home in the constituency comes close on the heels of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra entering Amethi on February 19
There is a sense of permanency when you build a home. It is perhaps with this message in mind that Union Minister and Amethi MP Smriti Irani will perform griha pravesh of the home she has built in Amethi. It’s a promise she made in 2019 to make the point that she considers Amethi to be her home for good.
The deeper messaging is clear and obvious. First, the griha pravesh comes close on the heels of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra entering Amethi on the afternoon of February 19, after which it shifts to Rae Bareilly.
One criticism of Rahul Gandhi has been that he has considered Amethi to be his constituency, but not home. His visits were rare and some disgruntled party workers there complained that Gandhi, despite being an MP from here for 10 years, did not know their names. Also, he would stay at the Mushiganj guest house, which was a part of the Sanjay Gandhi hospital. Living in a guesthouse, gives an impression of being migratory or occasional.
In fact, one of the main reasons why Gandhi is believed to have lost from his family seat of Amethi was the perception which was gaining traction, that he was disinterested and had taken his win for granted, unlike Irani, who despite losing it once, continued to visit the region.
In 2019, it was clear that many in Amethi were looking for change and were restless. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), determined to teach Gandhi a lesson, stepped up their campaign in Amethi. In fact, the PM had campaigned for Irani in Amethi to make the point that the seat was critical.
The Congress is yet to confirm whether Gandhi will contest from Amethi again. Last time, the fact that he had also decided to fight from Wayanad had given the slogan to the BJP and Smriti that ‘He has left Amethi’.
This time, in a bid to reclaim, many feel that Gandhi must fight from Amethi again. Which is why the Congress wants more help from the Samajwadi Party (SP). The yatra will cross Amethi, making it Gandhi’s third visit since he lost.
The attempt will be to rekindle the connect he once had with Amethi. But can Irani’s new home and its messaging make it difficult for Gandhi to set up a home in Amethi again?