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Goodbye with heavy heart

- Priyanka’s political future seen to hinge on Amethi result
Priyanka campaigns in Amethi last week. (PTI)

May 6: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra told Congress workers in Amethi last evening that she was leaving with a “heavy heart” for the first time in many years.

Dushprachar se jitna dil Amethi ki janata ka dukha hai, utna hi hamara bhi dil dukha hai (We are as hurt by the campaign of falsehood as the people of Amethi are), the Gandhi daughter said at the end of a campaign that saw Narendra Modi train his guns at her dead father.

Modi, addressing an impressive rally in Amethi just before electioneering closed, had also described the constituency as backward and accused the family of “looting” the country.

“They haven’t understood our relationship. Amethi’s development has come through the love and co-operation between you and my family,” the workers quoted Priyanka as saying. “We are proud that Amethi is our constituency,” she said.

The seat, which has elected a Gandhi family member eight times since 1980, goes to the polls tomorrow. Priyanka, who was shuttling between Rae Bareli and Amethi for the past fortnight canvassing for her mother and brother, left yesterday in line with an Election Commission directive requiring all “non-voters” to go out of the district limits.

Rahul Gandhi, contesting his third election, will be in Amethi on polling day for the first time as he faces his toughest battle yet.

“Amethi is known all over the country. In this election, the whole country’s eyes are on Amethi,” Priyanka told Congress workers. “Hamne kabhi bhi chhetra ke samman par aanch naheen aane di (We have never allowed any shadow on Amethi’s honour).”

The people of Amethi will not tolerate this negative campaign, she said.

Priyanka said her idea of politics was “sewa” (service), “samarpan” (dedication) and “vikas” (development).

Some party leaders, speaking on condition of anonymity, said in Delhi that her remarks indicated a sense of uncertainty and nervousness.

“While everyone thinks Amethi will not betray us, Priyanka’s assertion to key party workers indicates she wants them to do more on polling day,” an AICC functionary said.

If Amethi fails to elect Rahul, who won in 2009 by 3.7 lakh votes, the hype and expectations around Priyanka would end too.

Sources close to Priyanka said her future role in the Congress or politics hinges upon the outcome of the polls in Amethi and Rae Bareli. A poor showing would disillusion her, while Rahul’s electoral success would enhance chances of her formal entry into politics.

Senior Congress leaders believe Sonia Gandhi is already under pressure to draft Priyanka into the Congress after May 16. Some overzealous Congress leaders, including Union ministers and AICC office-bearers, are already talking about the possibility of Rahul leading the parliamentary wing of the party and Priyanka handling the organisation.