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Amethi debates if it will be Smriti this time

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: May 23, 2019  | 12:43 IST

By Amrit Mohan Amethi (UP), May 23 (PTI) It is barely 7 am as the Padmavat Express train chugs into the Gauriganj railway station, in Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi Lok Sabha constituency. An animated discussion is on among the rickshawpullers outside the station on the possible election result here. Some porters sipping tea outside the main station place a friendly bet on the outcome for the seat, which till now was considered a bastion of the Gandhi family. But this time even hardcore Congress loyalists have felt the heat of the aggressive campaigning by the BJP for its candidate, Union minister Smriti Irani. A few hours later, counting trends released by the Election Commission showed Irani actually ahead of Gandhi. “Amethi has remained the citadel of the Congress, but this time round, BJP's Smriti Irani is giving Rahul a run for his money," Congress supporters Ram Abhilash Dubey of Jais tells PTI. Though Dubey is confident of Rahul Gandhi’s win, he feels the victory margin will come down, considering the all-out electioneering by the ruling party here. BJP supporter Shiv Pujan Pandey says Smriti Irani will break into the Congress citadel as she has proved her dedication to the constituency, keeping in touch with the people even after losing in 2014. Local student Anjali feels that though the campaign was loud, Amethi’s voters have largely kept their views to themselves. She says though Gandhi remained busy elsewhere during the campaign, his sister, party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, filled in the gap. Priyanka Gandhi is equally important for the voters here, she feels. Congress worker Gaurav Prakash says the Gandhis’ legacy and the constituency's “personal” relationship with the family matter in Amethi. "The Gandhi family is directly associated with the constituency, and for the people here it is sort of an extension of their family," he says. He feels sure of the result. But so do some BJP workers gathered outside the district magistrate's office. "The Congress president is the “laapata” (missing) MP. Smriti `didi’ is all set to wrest the seat," says Arun Singh, a BJP worker. PTI AM SAB SMI ASH

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