Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will spend his MP area development funds on Rae Bareli, a move being seen as an attempt by the Bharatiya Janata Party to breach the Gandhi family bastion in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
'Representative' of Arun Jaitley and Uttar Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Hero Bajpai told PTI, "Almost a month ago, Jaitley had chosen Rae Bareli district as a Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh.
"The backwardness of the district despite being represented by a prominent political family and the various demands which have been emanating from the district, prompted Jaitley ji to choose this."
Under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), each MP has the choice to suggest to the district collector for works to the tune of Rs 5 crore per annum to be taken up in his/her constituency.
A Rajya Sabha MP can recommend works in one or more districts in the state from where he/she has been elected.
Bajpai said, "The Union finance minister may tour Rae Bareli in the first or second week of November."
However, Bajpai ruled out any possibility of an epic battle in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections between Sonia Gandhi and Arun Jaitley.
"He (Jaitley) will not contest the Lok Sabha elections, but will strengthen the BJP in the Congress bastion," Jaitley's representative said.
The people in Rae Bareli have been demanding a stadium, a university, solar lights and solar energy-operated pumps in remote villages of the district, Bajpai said, and added that efforts would be made to fulfil all the incomplete works in the district so that people could heave a sigh of relief.
He also said Rs 2.5 crore had already reached the chief development officer of Rae Bareli (the nodal person to carry out the works using the MPLADS funds).
Rae Bareli is currently represented by Sonia Gandhi in the Lok Sabha, while the neighbouring parliamentary constituency of Amethi is represented by Rahul Gandhi (current Congress president).
Prior to this, Indira Gandhi had won from Rae Bareli in 1980, while her elder son Rajiv Gandhi had represented Amethi in Lok Sabha in 1984, 1989 and 1991. Sanjay Gandhi had won from Amethi in 1980.
"Rae Bareli, which remained in darkness, as development eluded it during the the Congress rule, has now started experiencing the first rays of development touching its soil.
"Whenever any stalwart leader enters a district, it adds a new dimension to the growth saga of the district," Bajpai said, claiming that people of Rae Bareli are happy that the Union finance minister will be spending his MP area development funds on the district.
Jaitley's representative also said, "This will help the BJP achieve its mission of bagging more than 73 Lok Sabha seats from UP in the 2019 general elections." Uttar Pradesh sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha.
In the 2014 parliamentary elections, the BJP won 71 seats, its ally Apna Dal got two, while the SP bagged five and the Congress won the remaining two.
Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani, during a recent visit to Amethi and Rae Bareli last month, had attacked the Gandhi family for the lack of development in its stronghold.
She had accused the two Congress leaders for failing to develop their own constituencies, claiming that 70 to 80 per cent of houses were still made of mud.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections Sonia Gandhi had bagged 5,26,434 votes and defeated her BJP rival by a margin of 3,52,713 votes.