Spurred by its victory in Delhi in December, the Aam Admi Party (Common Man’s Party) has set its eyes on the dynastic bastion of the Gandhi family of the Congress in Amethi in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
On Sunday, a top AAP leader Kumar Vishwas addressed a massive rally in Amethi, represented in parliament by Rahul Gandhi, presumed to be the prime ministerial candidate of the Congress and a scion of the first family of the ruling party. Biswas announced that he would be contesting against Rahul in parliamentary elections scheduled to be held before May.
Vishwas’s high-profile visit unnerved Congress supporters, who staged boisterous protests. Black flags were waved, slogans were raise and eggs and stones were pelted at the two buses that carried AAP supporters according to reports.
“I am not scared by your black flags or by violence,” Vishwas said in his address.
He led his ‘Jan Vishwas’ or People’s Faith rally by hitting against the Gandhi family and calling Congress President Sonia Gandhi a “maharani” (queen).
He said the people had trusted the Gandhi family for “66 years and now is the time to pay the price for it”.
He exhorted the people of Amethi to choose “between a prince and a common man” for their forthcoming elections and accused Rahul Gandhi of posturing.
“I will not go to a Dalit’s (India’s most downtrodden caste) house for dinner and call TV crews to cover it”, he said.
Vishwas was referring to Rahul Gandhi who in 2011 had dinner at the home of a Dalit in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh state.
Congress leaders put up a brave face and insisted Vishwas’s campaign against Rahul Gandhi would fail. Rajiv Shukla, a Congress MP, said the people of Amethi loved the Gandhis. “No one can challenge them there”, he told reporters on Monday.
A Gandhi bastion
Amethi is a high profile and prestigious district among the 80 parliamentary constituencies of Uttar Pradesh. The seat has been won by the Nehru-Gandhi family since 1967 barring on two occasions when the opposition won.
All family members of the Gandhi family – Indira, Sanjay, Rajiv, Sonia and Rahul have represented this constituency.
However Vishwas led the campaign by attacking the Gandhis. “People called me a joker for contesting against Rahul Gandhi. A joker doesn’t sell the country”, he said of Gandhi.
Congress leaders are confident that the AAP will not be able to win against the might of the Gandhis in Amethi.
Vishwas’s brave campaign that marked the AAP’s grand entry for India’s 16th general elections in May this year has grabbed a lot of media coverage.