Mayawati, Priyanka face off at Amethi
Lucknow, February 9
Two star campaigners — BSP's Mayawati and Congress' Priyanka Gandhi
Vadra, who was accompanied by her children — addressed two public
meetings in Amethi today blaming each other's rule for the region's
BSP leader Mayawati waves to supporters; a BSP supporter sports the party symbol
(Clockwise from left) BSP leader Mayawati waves to supporters; a BSP
supporter sports the party symbol
"This region is not the Nehru-Gandhi family's 'babauti' (fiefdom),"
declared BSP supremo Mayawati while addressing a rally at Udharpur
village on the Sultanpur-Rae Bareli highway this morning.
Not mincing any words, she held the family responsible for the
backwardness of the region. "If the family had done some developmental
work for the region in the 40 years that the party was in power in the
state and the Centre, they wouldn't have had to indulge in the drama
of going door to door and holding roadside meetings," she said.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who arrived in Amethi today on the third round
of her campaigning in the present elections along with her children
Raihan and Miraya, addressed a meeting in which she blamed the various
governments which have ruled in the past 22 years of ignoring the
people of the region.
"Soniaji and Rahulji have sent me here as this is not an ordinary
election. After 22 years, there is an opportunity before you to vote
"So please ponder over issues and vote judiciously. It is not for my
or my family's honour but for your honour and the honour of the region
and state. In your happiness is the happiness of my family," was
Priyanka's emotional appeal to the gathered crowd, while her children
stood next to her looking bemused.
The face-off of these two leaders has a long history. It was the
clearly the popularity of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra which had forced
Mayawati to change the name of Amethi to Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj
Nagar during a "savdhaan rally" (caution rally) in Amethi on December
11, 2002, which was formally created on May 21, 2003.
The provocation for the sudden creation of the separate district of
Amethi was more political than administrative. Even then as is now,
the Congress and BSP were in direct confrontation for Dalit votes.
What made BSP chief Mayawati nervous then was the Congress', mainly
Priyanka Vadra's threat, to do 'kar seva' to rebuild the hutment of a
Dalit from Punnupur village whose house had been demolished by the
local Thakur landlord. The phenomenal public and media support for the
young leader had unnerved the BSP Chief Minister.
The extent of Mayawati's fears was visible when she held a "savdhaan
rally" (caution rally) in Amethi on December 11, 2002, to prevent
Dalits from being "misled" by Sonia Gandhi. It was at this rally that
she had declared Amethi as a separate district.
She named the newly created district Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar
with five tehsils - Amethi, Gauriganj and Musafirkhana of Sultanpur
district and Salon and Tiloi tehsils of Rae Bareli districts.
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