Amethi is a manifestation of Congress dynasty clampdown on democracy and development. Despite sending four members of the Nehru-Gandhi bloodline to the Parliament, the constituency has witnessed many reversals. Unearthing facts from the ground
Amethi suffers from the amnesia of development. In the colossal Uttar Pradesh (UP), Amethi was created as a Lok Sabha constituency in 1967. It represents the greatest irony of Bharatiya loktantra where the constituency which reposed faith in a family that has ruled Bharat for close to 50 years since Independence, is today one of the laggards regarding development.
A quick walk around the dusty and ramshackle streets of the city helps us spot the fact that the party which ruled Amethi for 13 Lok Sabha terms has done nothing for its denizens. Even Rahul Gandhi, the present Member of Parliament from Amethi and the Congress president seems to be least interested in the finding some solutions regarding the ugly realities of his constituency.
A sneak-peak into the ground realities, and it becomes clear that the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty never did enough for the poor people of Amethi and to justify its significance in their ‘model of development’. Certainly, Congress’ hand was never with the common man, as far as their pet constituency, Amethi is concerned.
The Amethi Model of Development
“Bade baap ke bigde hue bete hain”, was the first remark of an elderly Ramdulare in his 90s, when asked about his MP Rahul Gandhi. Ramdulare is a retired professor and one of those markers of history in the constituency who has seen all the Gandhis traversing Amethi, i.e. Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and now Rahul Gandhi. A Congressi by heart and an ardent follower of Indira Gandhi, Ramdulare asserted, “Indira Ji was a charismatic lady, and even Sanjay and Rajiv had special kind of leadership quality, but Rahul has no quality at all. Only having lunch or dinner in a Dalit family will not make him a leader”.
Miserable condition of the Amethi bypass road
It’s not that all Amethiwaasis detest Rahul, but yes they are filled with despair for not getting much for the constituency despite being the MP for the third time. “He’s a good man, but he is not made for politics,” observed labourer, Dharamraj Yadav. Dharamraj criticised Rahul for visiting Amethi during election time only. “Rahul Ji ko hamari yaad sirf chunnav ke samay aati hai”, he said. Dharamraj’s father and his family had voted for the Congress in each poll, except for the last one where he opted to vote for the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP).
“I am born and brought up in Amethi, and nothing much has changed for us; still, we live in the hope that the things will change for better, someday. No job opportunities, no quality education, no infrastructure; I want to ask a simple question, What has the Gandhi-Nehru family done for us in these so many years?”, he asked.
“While one can find Rahul Gandhi, constantly mocking the ‘Gujarat model of development’ in his stammered aggression, he never made a serious effort to make Amethi a better constituency than others, leave aside a ‘model of development’. Mocking others is not his job”, he added.
But the fact which nobody can deny is that people of Amethi still have sympathies for the Gandhi family. Rahul Gandhi still gets a share of the benefits of the family legacy. “Ab Kya karen, baat to sahi hai ki usne (Rahul Gandhi) Amethi ke lie kucch nahin kiya, lekin hai to Indira Ji ka pota” was the feeling of an 89-year-old Dhruvnarayan Tripathi lying on a khaat under a tree shade of Munshiganj.
Walk into Amethi as a tourist, or as a tourist reporter like me, and one fails even to find suitable hotel accommodation. One comes to know ‘why Rahul Gandhi fails to halt in the night here. Why he never eats there and carries his lunch box with food cooked in the ‘air and water’ of Delhi?
Gandhis have failed to look after the city completely. A bare necessity such as roads speaks for them. One of the significant projects visualised by Rahul Gandhi, the Amethi bypass road, which was to connect all the major routes like Pratapgarh, Durgapur, Sultanpur, Musafir Khana is in a miserable condition.
The other aspect that seems shocking, forget the much-hyped food park, is that there is not even a single children’s park where the children can go and play, or elders can sit for some time and breathe in fresh air.
“Amethi is not demanding any charity, what we are asking for is our right. Rahul Gandhi cannot understand the frustration, the youth of Amethi have been suffering” remarked a 23-year-old Vishuv Mishra in exasperation. “What we want is an opportunity, youth are left with no options but to leave Amethi and shift to Delhi or other similar cities if they wish to get a decent job. I can say, the youth of Amethi are ‘padhe-likhe berozgaar,” he added in displeasure.
The ghost of Samrat Bicycle factory is still haunting the people of Amethi. People term it a flimflam and blame Gandhi-Nehru family for stealing their lands
“After almost 15 years as Amethi MP and for ten years during which his party was in power in Centre, he has not done anything remarkable for the constituency. He failed to change the face of Amethi. His promise of establishing a food park didn’t take off after the much-hyped bhoomipoojan”, Vishuv informed.
“More than 2 lakh people are below poverty line in the constituency. You can imagine the situation and ugly face of underdevelopment here”, claimed Vishuv Mishra.
A picture talks to you, and the image of Amethi depressed the reporter’s neutral lens and pen. No doubt, Amethi is not an exception. There are many similar constituencies with a similar sorry state of affairs. But, when many of them all these years made the grave mistake of electing the Congress Party, Amethi elected one family. A party can be a single family! In that respect, Amethi is a manifestation of what went wrong with our Prajatantra.
It was my first visit to Amethi. After hitting the ground of Uttar Pradesh many times, I know that all is not well. Amethi is considered as the worst in already what is characterised as backward and left out state for so many decades!
Deplorable Den of Dynasty
“If you are suffering from a major health issue or something serious happens suddenly, you have no option other than going to Lucknow or Delhi which is miles away from Amethi. There is not even a single good trauma centre”, claims 62-year-old Girija.
Girija also remembered the Emergency period and called it Indirashaahi. “We still remember when we used to hide in the fields in fear of forceful nasbandi (sterilisation operation)”, he reminds. People of Amethi expected a lot from the Gandhi family but what they’ve been getting in return is just peanuts. Despite being the constituency of the ‘first family’, people of Amethi have never witnessed and experienced development and good governance. One comes to know about many grave issues of everyday living on face-to-face interaction with the people here. Girija came down heavily upon the Gandhi family for not fulfilling the promises which they made.
Along with health, water is another primary concern for the people of Amethi. According to a local journalist, around 36 villages of the constituency are suffering from the issue of khaara paani (saline water). “Hundreds of ponds have turned into the plane because of ignorance by administration. Samda Taal Pariyojna, considered as the dream project of UPA Government that started more than a decade ago by Rahul Gandhi is also hanging in the balance like other projects”, the journalist revealed. The Government had allotted Rs 3.5 crore for the digging of around 40 ponds, but that was also never done. According to the sources, only in the Nuwawa village of Amethi, 27 ponds were to be dug out, but that remained incomplete.
Ghost of Samrat Bicycle
The ghost of Samrat Bicycle factory is still haunting the people of Amethi. People term it a flimflam and blame Gandhi-Nehru family for stealing their lands. Even Smriti Irani, who fought the Lok Sabha election against Rahul Gandhi in 2014 highlighted it in her public rallies and accused the Congress of a land scam in Amethi saying, “60-65 acres of land was taken for Samrat cycle company from residents of Amethi. But the land was later transferred to the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust on February 24, 2015.”
After the death of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, all the projects that were started were put on hold. The lands were taken from the farmers in the name of providing them jobs, and it led to no result. 62-year-old Sanjay (name changed), a vegetable vendor by profession told Organiser, “Many families faced the crisis because of all this mishappening. It is true that the farmers received the compensation, but that was not enough. They gave the land in the hope of getting a job for the lifetime, but nobody had an idea that this decision was going to ruin their future.”
Closed Samrat Bicycle site in Gauriganj, Amethi
In 1983, 65 acres of land belonging to farmers was acquired in Kauhar village of Amethi and given to Samrat Bicycles to set up a manufacturing plant. However, the company did not start the work and soon closed down. To repay the loan, it auctioned the land allotted by Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC). It has been alleged that later the 65 acres of farmers” land, which was acquired for setting up the bicycle factory was sold to Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust.
The experts questions that how any land belonging to the UPSIDC was transferred to Samrat Cycles on ownership basis and termed it a part of the conspiracy to illegitimately transfer industrial land to the Rajiv Gandhi Trust. People alleged that the trust purchased the valuable land in just Rs 10 crore from the Samrat Bicycle setup and later sold scraps of the factory for Rs 60 crore.
Sanjay recalls that almost all the prime lands given to the industrialists in the constituency to open industries by Rajiv Gandhi were a part of the plan. After year or two, almost all the industrialists who had begun their units had promptly declared their units sick and minted money from the land which they had got on a subsidised rate. The poor have not even been given jobs with these industrial units. Around 600 small-big industries were opened up in Amethi till date, but most of them are dysfunctional.
A Scam in the Making
An anonymous source gave inputs on Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojna (RGMVP). The Pariyojana is a flagship programme of Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust, a registered non-profit institution, having claimed to work for poverty reduction, women empowerment and rural development in Uttar Pradesh. The source is a Bank Manager by profession who exposed how the banks in Amethi are being pressurised from above to provide loans under RGMVP to the people without proper documents, knowing that chances of recovery are bleak.
“We have been asked not to take any security for providing the loan. Even we have been asked to prefer people asking loan in the name of RGMVP over Mudra Yojna”, revealed the bank manager.
The manager also said that “The people of Amethi are fed up with the way Rahul Gandhi has worked for 15 years. Parsauli village of Amethi is a big example of anger and frustration against Rahul. If one remembers, the entire village did not vote in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections, 2017. It was a reflection of their anger against the Congress”. Parsauli is only three km away from Amethi town.
Smriti Challenges Scion
People of Amethi alleged that Rahul Gandhi had made great promises during the polls, but he failed to fulfill any of them. Even he has no time to listen to their grievances. Sudhanshu Yadav (name changed), an advocate by profession said, “Whenever Rahul Baba comes to Amethi, he meets his close associates. All his poll promises have vanished in thin air”.
Site of sainik school, an initiative of BJP Government
The people of Amethi surprise visitors by their loving praise for Smriti Irani. “I must appreciate Smriti Irani. Despite losing to Rahul Gandhi in the election, she is making continuous visits to Amethi and meeting with the people. The work of Sainik School and Kendriya Vidyalaya is going in full flow”, said the advocate.
He also thanked Smriti Irani for providing a rake of urea fertiliser as demanded by local farmers and the villages getting electrified under the Central scheme Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana.
Amethi in its length and breadth narrates a sorry state of affairs. Despite having been the strong suit of Nehru-Gandhi dynasty electorally for decades, it could not be identified for its development report card. One must ask whether the Congress culture and the ‘first family’ willingly erased the development pursuits from the democratic functioning or was the land assumed just as a feudatory?