Smriti consoles villagers in Amethi on Saturday. (PTI)
Lucknow, July 19: Smriti Irani today visited Amethi for the first time after losing to Rahul Gandhi and declared that the people “had big expectations from me and not the one who got elected”.
The Union human resource development minister sought to project her trip as an answer to Priyanka Gandhi’s description of the BJP leader during the campaign as a “poll-time visitor” in an appeal not to vote for “outsiders”.
“I had promised the people of Amethi that I would be working for them in the future and remain in their midst. My visit here today is the first step towards that promise,” Smriti said, terming “unfortunate” her defeat by a little over a lakh votes. Rahul had won by over three lakh votes in 2009, the margin slash this time widely attributed to Smriti’s vigorous campaign that cut his votes.
Today, Smriti, given a rousing reception with hundreds lining the roads when her convoy drove past, didn’t shy away from taking potshots at the victor.
“The people of Amethi have big expectations from me and not the one who got elected from here…I will try to live up to this expectation,” she said without naming Rahul.
Priyanka had during the campaign taken a swipe at Smriti — a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat — by suggesting the BJP leader may not return to Amethi. “I want to ask the candidate who contested from Chandni Chowk if she went back there ever after the polls,” Priyanka had said, alluding to Smriti’s 2004 defeat in the Delhi seat.
Today, Smriti was seen making every effort to prove otherwise, meeting party workers and listening to residents’ problems during her four-hour Amethi trip.
“During the elections, I had said that I won’t leave Amethi. Today, I have come here and (while) I may not be an MP from here, I will continue to visit this place,” Smriti told party workers at Gauriganj.
She also travelled to Baraulia, a village where several houses were ravaged in a fire during the polls in May. She asked the district magistrate to provide housing facilities to those affected.
The HRD minister expressed dismay over law-and-order in Uttar Pradesh and asked the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi government to pay special attention to the security of women and children. “The law and order situation is not good in the state. There has been a spurt in crime against women and children. As Union minister, I will say the state should improve law and order. I will talk to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav regarding the problems of the state.”
Smriti’s pitch was also seen by some observers as part of the efforts by the BJP to build its ground further in a state where the party and its allies won 73 of its 80 seats. Assembly polls are due in 2017.