UP battle spices up with Smriti Irani accusing Rahul of ‘booth capturing’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 06, 2019

Union Minister Smriti Irani


Union Minister Smriti Irani’s allegation of “booth-capturing” on Monday spiced up a rather dull voting day for the 14 seats in Awadh and eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Barring the Gandhi family pocket-boroughs of Amethi and Rae Bareli, the Gathbandhan of SP/BSP/RLD is locked in a direct and keen contest with the BJP in this region.

In 2014, the BJP had bagged 12 of the 14 seats for which polling was held on Monday. The Congress had won the two seats of Rae Bareli and Amethi. This time, the Gathbandhan is putting up a fierce fight with the BSP contesting five among the 14 seats — Dhaurahra, Sitapur, Mohanlalganj, Fatehpur and Kaisarganj.

Its ally SP is fighting seven seats — Lucknow, Banda, Kaushambi, Barabanki, Faizabad, Bahraich and Gonda. In Amethi and Rae Bareli, seats from where Congress President Rahul Gandhi and former President Sonia Gandhi are respectively contesting, the SP-BSP alliance has not put up any candidate.

In Amethi, where a wave for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 had brought Rahul Gandhi’s victory margin from 370,198 votes in 2009 to 107,903 in 2014, the Congress President’s chief opponent, BJP MP and Union Minister Smriti Irani was at her spirited best.

She was seen visiting several booths on polling day and created a stir on her twitter account by alleging that the Congress chief “is ensuring booth capturing”.

“Alert @ECISVEEP Congress President @Rahul Gandhi ensuring booth capturing,” the Union Minister tweeted.

She also tagged a video in which an elderly woman was seen alleging that her hand was forcibly put on the ‘panja’ (hand) — Congress’ election symbol — though she wanted to vote for the ‘kamal’ (lotus), the BJP’s symbol.

No formal complain

Although no formal complaint was made, action had reportedly been taken against the presiding officer of the booth that the Union Minister mentioned on her twitter account.

The Congress, on its part, seemed calm and certain of Rahul Gandhi sailing through his own election especially owing to a statement put out by the BSP chief Maywati on Sunday evening. She urged about 22-22 per cent of her voters to cast their vote in favour of the Congress.

Mayawati’s statement was largely to clear the confusion that PM Narendra Modi sought to create in Pratapgarh last weekend when he claimed the SP and the Congress were “betraying” Mayawati.

In the context of a video footage of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi with SP workers as well as her statement that the Congress is supporting the Gathbandhan in seats where it does not hope to win, the PM said: “Congress leaders are happily sharing the stage with SP leaders in rallies. These people have betrayed Behenji (BSP chief) so cunningly that even she is not able to comprehend what is happening.”

Meanwhile, polling was peaceful in Dhaurahra, Sitapur, Mohanlalganj (SC), Lucknow, Banda, Fatehpur, Kaushambi (SC), Barabanki (SC), Faizabad, Bahraich (SC), Kaiserganj and Gonda constituencies where a total of 182 candidates are in the fray.

Published on May 06, 2019

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