Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Union Minister Smriti Irani are all set to take the political hotbed of Uttar Pradesh's Amethi by storm with both the leaders descending there on Friday.
The duo had contested the last Lok Sabha elections from Amethi, a contest won by the Congress chief -- one of just two seats the Congress won out of 80 in U.P, along with his mother Sonia Gandhi in Raebareli -- and are likely to lock horns once again in the upcoming general election.
While Rahul Gandhi will be in Amethi on January 4 and 5, Smriti Irani, a vocal critic of the Gandhi scion, will begin her daylong visit to the Gandhi bastion on Friday. The Congress chief will meet the people of his constituency, attend public and party reception, hold 'corner meetings' in Salon and visit Pareshdepur, Naseerabad, Paraiya Namaksar and Gauriganj areas on Friday. He will also take part in the oath-taking ceremony of the Gauriganj Zila Adhivakta Sangh and inaugurate the Adhivakta Bhawan, built from the MPLAD funds. On Saturday, he will travel to Musafirkhana tehsil, Jagdishpur and Tiloyi, where he will meet the family members of late Shiv Pratap Singh, veteran Congress leader who died last week after a prolonged illness, before reaching Lucknow for his onward journey to Delhi.
Smriti Irani, on the other hand, will attend a programme organised by Raghav Sewa Sansthan during which blankets and financial assistance will be extended to needy people and a foundation stone for a school will also be laid. This is the second time she is visiting Amethi in just the last two weeks. Though the union textiles minister was eventually beaten by Rahul Gandhi in the 2014 election by an almost 4:3 vote margin, she maintained her contact with the constituency, nurturing it and visiting it frequently. She has continued to cultivate Amethi during these years, dropping enough hints that she will once again contest against Rahul Gandhi in the polls. Speaking at the Republic Summit, Smriti Irani had been non-committal about whether she would contest from Amethi but didn't rule it out either.
Interestingly, this will be the first visit by the Congress president to his constituency after his party tasted victory in the recent Assembly elections which, many believe, has rejuvenated the party cadre as well as its leaders.