Mudda panel discusses party’s game plan for 2019 general election

BJP president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani have challenged Congress vice-president and Lok Sabha MP from Amethi, Rahul Gandhi, to retain his home constituency in the 2019 general elections.

Announcing a slew of projects and welfare measures, Shah said that while Rahul Gandhi has been demanding a report card of the BJP’s performance in the last three years, the electorate of Amethi is demanding an account of the work done by the last three generations.

While Shah was challenging Gandhi on his home turf, the AICC president-to-be was on a tour to the BJP stronghold of Gujarat, where he was doing his best to expose the reality of demonetisation, Make in India and other economic mega-moves of the BJP. At the same time, he pandered to Hindutva leanings, visiting five temples during his Saurashtra tour, and participated in Dandiya celebrations.

So has the war cry for Lok Sabha elections 2019 been sounded with both the leading national parties out to capture the strongholds of their opponent? From all counts, Irani, who lost Amethi in 2014, is out to defeat Gandhi in 2019. There are also indications that the BJP will focus on those 150 seats which it lost in 2014.

BJP leader KK Shukla, participating in Tuesday’s Mudda show on APN channel, said Irani has every chance of winning. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, despite the late decision to contest, she made quite a mark with her oratory prowess and organisational ability, giving the Congress a tough time. Gandhi managed to win by a margin of just one lakh, despite the Gandhis deploying all their strength there. And in the assembly elections early this year, the BJP candidate won, while the Congress candidate was a poor third.

Hilal Naqvi of the Congress said that Amethi and Rae Bareli enjoy a special place because of the love bestowed on the Nehru-Gandhis there and because of the work they have done in these constituencies. There were industries established there like railway coach manufacture and food parks. But the BJP has closed many of these.

He added that Gandhi, during his Gujarat tour, is trying to expose the lies that the BJP has perpetrated.

Naqvi also said that if the BJP intends to focus on those seats which it lost in 2014, then the signal that goes out in those seats where it won is very confusing. That electorate will be left waiting for welfare schemes.

Samajwadi Party spokesperson Juhi Singh agreed that Shah and Irani claim to be committed to development but the BJP wins elections only on religion and caste cards. They are good at slogans and big promises. Ask them how many jobs have they created, how many entrepreneurs have been facilitated, and the income of farmers, which they claim has doubled, she said.

A point was raised about Gandhi’s claim that many of the schemes the BJP has launched were actually conceptualised by the Congress. Shukla BJP said that the Congress should be happy if its schemes are being implemented. Credit should go to those who implemented the scheme, rather than keeping it confined to paper, he said.

APN Consulting Editor Govind Pant Raju pointed out that till some years ago a large number of industries dotted the Jagdishpur Industrial Area in Amethi, but today this area is desolate. Political analyst Ravindra Singh said that the word “development” is parroted as part of political games; there is not much happening on the ground in any constituency.

On the issue of Gandhi’s foray in Gujarat, Raju said that the 2019 Lok Sabha elections are more important for the Congress. If it fails to win, there will be a question mark on its existence. This is the litmus test for the organisational ability of Rahul Gandhi, he said.

Compiled by Meha Mathur