Home > News > Elections 2004 > Report
Vedanti striving to break Rahul's spell
George Iype in Amethi |
April 21, 2004 15:32 IST
Last Updated: April 21, 2004 17:31 IST
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad is spitting fire on Rahul Gandhi, the youngest member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to enter politics who is contesting from Amethi parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh.
Pitted against him is Ram Vilas Vedanti, a firebrand VHP leader who is contesting the election on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket.
As his election cavalcade passes Amethi, Vedanti targets Rahul.
He says he does not consider Rahul as a member of the Gandhi family. "He is the son of [Congress president] Sonia Gandhi, a foreigner. He is an outsider. What does he know about Amethi? What does he know about India? He may tell you better things about Italy, not India," Vedanti tells rediff.com
Vedanti then explains why Amethi must choose him. "I am the son of Amethi. I eat the local food. I speak in the local language. I know the people's problems."
Vedanti says the Gandhi family has destroyed Amethi over the years. "They have neglected Amethi all these years. Where is the industry here? People do not have food, electricity and water. The Congress has been ruling Amethi from the air-conditioned comfort of New Delhi. That is going to end this time," he says.
Amethi, says Vedanti, is ruled by 'a foreigner', referring to Sonia. "Maybe this is the only area in the country that is directly ruled by Italy. This foreign rule will end once I get elected to Parliament from Amethi."
There are people listening to what Vedanti says, but not many have a clue about the 'videshi' talk.
"What is this videshi thing? I do not know," says Lal Bahadur, a shopkeeper. Villagers like Bahadur do not even know that Sonia was born in Italy.
The VHP leader is not the only one fighting Rahul; the Bahujan Samaj Party has fielded Chandraprakash Mishra, who says his boss Mayawati will address rallies in Amethi this week.
Vedanti is not enlisting support of his bosses. "Why should they come? I have not asked Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee or [his deputy] L K Advani to campaign for me. I am a local politician and my might is enough to defeat the Congress."
Vedanti says he is sure of winning. "Amethi result will surprise everyone in the country."
But despite the brave talk, the BJP suffers from factionalism in Amethi. The party suffered a setback when a few local BJP leaders had to be expelled for anti-party activities.
The BJP again suffered a setback when Ameeta Singh quit the party to join the Congress.
Ameeta Singh, who was the BJP MLA from Amethi, is once again is in the fray as the Congress candidate from Amethi assembly constituency. By-election to the Amethi assembly seat is being held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls.
But no one is bothered about the by-election. It is the Rahul magic that everyone is interested in.