Why the BJP is turning up the heat on Rahul Gandhi in Amethi: 10 points

It is about more than just defeating Rahul Gandhi.

Why the BJP is turning up the heat on Rahul Gandhi in Amethi: 10 points
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NEW DELHI: The BJP has said it would focus on bringing its heavyweight leaders to Amethi. The idea ostensibly is to wrest the constituency from its present holder, Rahul Gandhi. But it is not just about defeating the Congress princeling, but to launch an attack on a region that is considered a fortress for the Congress.

Here are 10 points that explain the BJP’s focus on Amethi:

1.  Amethi Constituency was formed in 1967. Since then, the candidates tied to Indira Gandhi or her family members have lost only twice. 

2.  The first time was in 1977, when the Congress was routed in the Hindi belt after Emergency. The only other time the Congress lost in Amethi was in 1998, when the BJP won by a slender 3.9 percent vote margin.

3.  Out of 15 Lok Sabha elections held in Amethi, members of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty have won nine times. 

4.  Four members of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty have been elected from Amethi – Sanjay Gandhi (1980), Rajiv Gandhi (1981, 1984, 1989 and 1991), Sonia Gandhi (1999) and Rahul Gandhi (2004, 2009 and 2014).

5.  The adjoining Rae Bareli Constituency is also a bastion for the Nehru-Gandhi family and the Congress. Nehru-Gandhi family members have won 13 of the 19 elections held in Rae Bareli. It was the seat of choice of Indira Gandhi and is presently represented by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

6.  The Nehru-Gandhis have almost always won with massive margins in Amethi – 1.29 lakh (1980), 2.38 lakh (1981),  3.15 lakh (1984), 2.02 lakh (1989), 1.12 lakh (1991), 3 lakh (1999), 2.91 lakh (2004), 3.7 lakh (2009).

7.  However, Rahul Gandhi’s margin of victory was hugely dented in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. BJP’s Smriti Irani thinned the margin to 1.08 lakh votes. This was the smallest margin of victory for a Nehru-Gandhi in Amethi.

8.  Amethi and Rae Bareli were the only two constituencies the Congress won in Uttar Pradesh in 2014.

9.  By targeting the two constituencies, the BJP seemingly hopes that it would succeed in turning these pocket boroughs into distractions for Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, dragging them away from attempts to revive the Congress Party.

10.  Also, in the event it succeeds in wresting even one of these two seats away from the Nehru-Gandhis, it would be a massive symbolic victory for the BJP.