In what is one of the biggest upsets for Congress, party chief Rahul Gandhi has lost the Amethi parliamentary constituency to the BJP’s Smriti Irani.
As per ECI data, the counting is still in progress and Smriti has a lead of nearly 55,000 votes. However, Rahul himself has admitted defeat. Addressing the media on Thursday evening, he congratulated Smriti on her victory, and said he accepted the mandate of the people of Amethi.
Rahul had represented Amethi since 2004, serving three terms as MP. He took over from his mother and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who went on to represent Rae Bareilly.
Smriti had contested against Rahul in the 2014 general election as well, but had lost by around 1.07 lakh votes. However, this was a much closer margin compared to the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, when the margin was over 4.64 lakh votes between Rahul Gandhi and the BJP’s candidate Pradeep Kumar Singh. After Congress, the nearest contender in 2009 in Amethi was the BSP with 93,997 votes— an impressive 3.7 lakh votes less than Rahul.
Amethi has traditionally been held by a member of the Congress, with four of the Gandhi family members having represented the constituency in the past – Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi. However, with the margin of win drastically reducing between 2009 and 2014, speculations were rife that the Congress is losing influence on ground. These were fuelled further when Rahul decided to contest from a second seat in Wayanad, Kerala which seemed to indicate that the party was unsure of securing a win in Amethi.
The winning candidate Smriti’s campaign in the constituency was rooted in portraying Rahul as an absentee MP, as an arrogant leader who left his sister Priyanka to campaign for him in Amethi. Priyanka mostly relied on public meetings and rallies in the constituency.