Union minister Smriti Irani filed Thursday her nomination papers from Amethi, pitting herself against Congress president Rahul Gandhi who has won thrice from this constituency which is regarded as Gandhi family pocket borough.
Irani filed the nomination after a road show, which followed a similar route taken by the one organised by the Congress when Rahul submitted his own papers here, Wednesday.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath accompanied Irani in a show of strength in the constituency, which has been nursed by the Union Textiles Minister even after she was defeated by Rahul last time. She lost by over a lakh votes, but the shrunken margin of victory for Rahul has boosted the BJP’s hopes this time around.
The Congress president is also contesting from a second constituency, Wayanad in Kerala, this time, prompting the BJP to claim that he is ‘scared’ to take on Irani.
Irani, who has been lashing out at Rahul for ‘missing’ from Amethi and for its ‘lack of development’, continued to attack him Thursday. She questioned his ‘silence’ over the I-T raids against aides of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath.
The road show began with prayers at the Gauriganj’s Budhanmaai temple, where her husband Zubin Irani accompanied Smriti.
Enthusiastic party workers took part in the road show ahead of the nomination, beating drums and showering rose petals. Many women wore saffron saris and men had ‘angochhas’ in the same colour flung over their shoulders. They wore ‘Main bhi chowkidar’ (I am also a watchman) caps, in support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Talking with reporters, Irani targeted her rival over the recent I-T raids. “The Income Tax department has claimed it has detected a racket in collection of unaccounted cash, running into crores,” Irani said.
“Rahul Gandhi is still silent over the fact that details of about Rs 280 crore have emerged from the residence of an aide of Kamal Nath. Rahul’s silence exposes his reality,” added the BJP candidate.
Irani said the people are looking for a vision in these elections for the development of the country, asserting that Modi will again emerge as Prime Minister.