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In the race up to the Lok Sabha elections that are scheduled to be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, the BJP released its first list of 182 candidates.
The red-letter constituency in the BJP's announcement of their first list of candidates was Uttar Pradesh's Amethi, as the seat is all set to be turned into a high-pitch political battleground once again owing to the contest between Smriti Irani and Rahul Gandhi.
The bastion of Congress for decades, Amethi constituency has been contested by the Gandhi family since 1980- with Sanjay Gandhi first, then former PM Rajiv Gandhi, followed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and now the Prime Minister aspirant, Rahul Gandhi.
The seat has elected a non-Congress representative only two times in the past. However, this time could easily be the third:
Despite being a stronghold of the Gandhi-family for two generations now, the dwindling number of votes in Lok Sabha 2014 elections depicts the loosening of Congress' grip.
Smriti Irani lost to Rahul Gandhi by just 1,07,923 votes - a 4:3 vote ratio. In comparison, Narendra Modi defeated Arvind Kejriwal (both were on a high at that time) by a massive 3.7 lakh votes from Varanasi.
After winning the Amethi seat by a wafer-thin margin of 12.32% in the last General elections, the Rahul Gandhi led-Congress party's predicament was accentuated further after losing the state elections in 2017 miserably to the BJP.
Congress lost all five assembly election seats in Amethi district, the pocket borough of Nehru-Gandhi family, with BJP bagging four of them and the last one being won by Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party - Congress' then ally.
Since the loss, the Union Minister and other BJP leaders have visited Amethi several times, campaigning in the constituency. Irani has also accused the Congress president of exploiting the constituency as a mere 'vote-bank' and failing to invest in its development, thus changing the discourse.
She said, "The Congress president speaks about development. But he has failed to bring about development even to his own Lok Sabha seat."
"Since last five years, we have been working for the development of the people. In the Vidhan Sabha polls, 4 out of 5 seats were won by BJP because the people were impacted by our work and even the fifth seat was not won by Congress. The defeat of Congress is a certainity.
"I have worked for Amethi despite losing, PM Modi had said that we had worked for those who had voted for us and those who did not, so our campaign had started long ago," she added.
Rahul Gandhi's 'Masood Azhar ji' reference to the founder of the terror organisation, Jaish-e-Mohammed might be a cause of friction to his standing constituency Amethi as a poster denouncing the Congress president popped up there last week.
The posters saying "jo atankvadi ko ji kahe Aisa sansad Amethi ko nahi chaiye. Rahul Gandhi Murdabad, antakwadi murdabad". (He who addresses terrorists with te honourific 'ji', Amethi rejects his government") have been put up all over in Amethi.
Rahul Gandhi last week addressed the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar, by referring to the terrorist leader as 'Masood Azhar Ji' in a rally. Further in his remarks, he also attacked the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government over the release of Masood Azhar in exchange for the safe return of the passengers of hijacked plane IC-814 in 1999.
Republic World brings you comprehensive election news coverage and phase-by-phase election updates of the Indian General Elections 2019. The 2019 Lok Sabha Elections will be held from April 11 to May 19 in seven phases, with the counting of votes scheduled for May 23. Get all the latest election news, highlights, controversies, polls, live updates and results of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019, only on Republic World.