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Congress’ KL Sharma to take on BJP’s sitting MP Smriti Irani from Amethi Lok Sabha Constituency

Amethi has been a stronghold of the Congress party for decades, until Bharatiya Janata Party leader Smriti Irani won the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, ending the Gandhi family's stint there.

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Amethi has been a stronghold of the Congress party for decades, until Bharatiya Janata Party leader Smriti Irani won the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, ending the Gandhi family’s stint there. Amethi, the most-watched seat in the fifth phase, will go to the polls on May 20. The results will be announced on June 4.

The Amethi seat comprises five assembly segments, including Tiloi, Salon, Jagdishpur, Gauriganj, and Amethi. The constituency is a general seat. This time, Smriti Irani is pitted against Congress candidate Kishori Lal Sharma, a longtime loyalist of the Gandhi family. The Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) has named Nanhe Singh Chauhan.

This is Iran’s third election from Amethi after losing in 2014 to Rahul Gandhi by 1 lakh votes and winning in 2019 by a margin of around 55,000. In 2019, Irani got 468,514 voters with 49.7 per cent votes, while Rahul Gandhi got 413,394 voters with 43.9 per cent votes.

Amethi, known as the Gandhi family bastion, was where party stalwarts like Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and top leader Rahul Gandhi contested successfully. The voters of Amethi remained loyal to Congress as they consistently elected members of the Nehru-Gandhi family or candidates backed by the party.

In 1981, former PM Rajiv Gandhi won from Amethi and continued to represent the seat until his assassination in 1991. After his assassination, Congress’ late Satish Sharma won the seat. Sharma continued to represent the seat in the Lok Sabha till 1998, when the BJP’s Sanjaya Sinh defeated him. In 1999, Sonia Gandhi was a candidate for the seat and won it.

Later in 2004, Sonia shifted to Rae Bareli, passing the baton to Rahul. Rahul Gandhi contested the polls from Amethi and remained an MP till 2019 until his defeat by Smriti Irani. Rahul Gandhi was a three-time MP from the seat from 2004 to 2019. There were speculations that the grand old party may field either Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi Vadra from the constituency against Smriti Irani but putting all the speculations to rest, Kishori Lal Sharma was fielded by the Congress party on the last day of nomination for phase 5.

Kishori Lal Sharma, a close associate and loyalist of the Gandhi family, is originally from Punjab’s Ludhiana. He has been working for the Congress Party in Amethi for years. Reacting to his candidature from Amethi, Sharma expressed gratitude to the Congress leadership and said that he would work hard to win the seat.

“I want to thank Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi for giving me the opportunity to contest from their traditional seats. I will work very hard. Rahul Gandhi is not someone who runs away from the ground. No one can predict anything (about votes). I will meet Priyanka Gandhi today,” he said. After Rahul Gandhi was named by the Congress as its candidate for the Raebareli Lok Sabha seat, Union Minister and BJP’s candidate from Amethi, Smriti Irani, said that Congress conceded defeat from the constituency even before a vote was cast, adding that the opposition party would not have fielded a “proxy candidate” (Kishori Lal Sharma) if they were hopeful about the outcome of the polls.

Meanwhile, Irani is questioning the Congress on what it has done for the constituency so far and accusing Rahul of “abandoning” the constituency after his 2019 loss to Irani. While KL Sharma is focusing on raking up his and the Gandhi family’s connections with the constituency. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will run for the MP from Rae Bareli, where his mother was a five-time MP, before taking the Rajya Sabha route to the Parliament this year.

Polling for 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh is being held across all seven phases. The counting of votes is scheduled for June 4.

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