Today's Paper

Voting moved at leisurely pace in Amethi

Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi  

Atiq Khan

AMETHI: Voting in the sprawling Amethi parliamentary constituency that includes the three Assembly segments of Sultanpur district and two of Rae Bareli district moved at a leisurely pace on Thursday even as the wind appeared to favour the Congress and its candidate Rahul Gandhi. Mr. Gandhi is seeking re-election here for the second successive term to the Lok Sabha.

Ashish Shukla of the Bahujan Samaj Party and Pradeep Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party are the other candidates. The Samajwadi Party is not contesting either here or in Rae Bareli.

Low voter-turnout was attributed to the threshing of the wheat crop and the marriage season. The day temperatures soaring above 40 degrees can act as a deterrent for townsmen but not for village residents. Vote dhire parh raha hai magar voting ek tarfa ho rahi hai (the voter turnout is slow but the voting is one-sided), remarked Mukesh of Haarimau village in the Jagdishpur Assembly segment of the constituency.

Worried lot

Congress workers in Amethi town were worried that voters were not coming out of their homes. They then went on to mention the reasons. Yeh sethon ka ilaaqa hai, aaram se aayenge (this is a town of rich people, they will come at a leisurely pace), said one worker, Dhyani. He was obviously referring to the rich Marwari business families of Amethi.

The reasoning given by another worker sounded equally plausible: Rahul Gandhi ko jeetna hai, kaun jhain jhain kare (they know Rahul Gandhi will win, so why take the trouble of moving out?).

Mr. Gandhi’s victory margin in 2004 was 2.92 lakh votes, and he polled 46 per cent of the popular vote. Amethi has about 14 lakh voters.

Tough fights

Old-timers recalled that elections in Amethi used to be more keenly contested. Said Ram Lal: “In the 1999 elections when Sonia Gandhi was pitted against the Raja of Amethi and one-time Gandhi family loyalist Sanjay Singh, who was in the fray on the BJP ticket, there were long queues outside the Devi Patan Primary School polling centre in Amethi.” Sanjay Singh, who was critically wounded in a shootout with rival Congress supporters during the 1989 polls — he had by then joined the Janata Dal — is back in the BJP as its candidate in neighbouring Sultanpur.

In the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had campaigned strongly for its candidate. This time round, no national or State-level BJP leader campaigned for Pradeep Singh, who was left virtually to fend for himself. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BSP president Mayawati also skipped Amethi.

Corrections and Clarifications

A report "Voting moving at a leisurely pace in Amethi" (April 24, 2009) saidthat Rahul Gandhi's victory margin in 2004 was 2.92 lakh votes and that hepolled 46 per cent of the popular vote. Mr. Gandhi secured 66.18 per cent ofthe popular vote. The polling percentage in Amethi in 2004 was 44.50 percent.

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