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|October 7, 1999||
Sonia breaks all records in Amethi
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow
Congress president Sonia Gandhi today created history by winning the Amethi parliamentary seat by 300,015 votes. She beat all past records, including that of her late husband Rajiv Gandhi, who had nursed this constituency after getting elected from there in 1981 and then in 1984.
Amethi also gave another jolt to the already shaken Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh with the party's high-profile nominee Sanjay Singh almost losing his deposit. The party's hype on Sonia's 'foreign origins' also seemed to have fallen flat in Amethi.
What was worse was that Singh suffered this devastating defeat after the BJP had pumped in all its financial as well as intellectual resources to give Sonia Gandhi a run for her money. Apart from leading film stars like Hema Malini and Vinod Khanna being flown in by private aircraft to woo the electorate, the party also got its star campaigners like Sushma Swaraj, Madan Lal Khurana, K N Govindacharya and Kalyan Singh to make repeated trips to Amethi.
A massive jamboree was organised for Vajpayee too, but the heavens turned unkind on the BJP and a heavy downpour prevented Vajpayee from landing in Amethi, leaving a crowd of over 100,000 rather disappointed.
While Singh and his wife Amita harped on "Sonia's failure to bring any big leader to campaign for her," it was lone Priyanka who had countered the combined might of the BJP leaders.
Sonia spent only one day during the entire campaign in this constituency, giving yet another occasion to her rivals to brand her as an "outsider, who had no time to spend with the people of Amethi".
On the other hand, Singh, the scion of the erstwhile princely state of Amethi, projected himself as the 'son of the soil'.
What rode above everything else was Priyanka's magic that spelt doom for the raja. Her affability, accessibility and a striking resemblance to her father were enough to sweep the residents of Amethi off their feet.
Her husband Robert Vadra's contribution too cannot be overlooked. "While Priyankaji was busy running from village to village and establishing rapport with the common masses, Robert Vadraji was organising and mobilising booth committees and polling agents to ensure a smooth poll," said Uttar Pradesh Congress spokesman Akhilesh Singh.
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