Rivals raise ‘city of contrasts’ bogey in Sonia’s Raebareli
Glaring contrasts in various spheres in this Nehru-Gandhi family pocketborough are being used by the rivals to target Congress
Raebareli: Glaring contrasts in various spheres in this Nehru-Gandhi family pocketborough are being used by the rivals to target Congress President Sonia Gandhi for lop-sided development in the constituency from where she is seeking a fourth term.
The town has top educational institutes but lacks teachers in primary schools, four National Highways but highly dilapidated and non-motorable roads – these are some of the instances of skewed progress in this historical part of Awadh region where over 14 lakh electors are eligible to vote on April 30.
“You will find deep-potholed roads. They are in a highly dilapidated condition and not at all motorable. If you go to villages, you find most of the houses are built of mud and clay,” BJP candidate Ajay Agrawal says.
Raebareli has the third Rail coach factory in the country established at a cost of around Rs 2,700 crore, but the subdued job scenario is driving many youths in search of livelihood elsewhere, say political rivals of Sonia.
However, Congress leaders are undeterred by the criticism and exude confidence that Sonia will secure the seat for the fourth straight time.
Congress leader Dinesh Singh, says, “Sonia-ji is not fighting any candidate here. She is fighting her own margin. We are confident that it will increase.”
When Sonia first contested the seat in 2004, she won with a vote share of of 58.75 per cent. In 2006 after having resigned following the office-of-profit controversy, she was re elected in by-elections with a vote share of 72 per cent. She maintained the lead with a vote share of 72.23 per cent in 2009.
Criticising Sonia for her development track record here, BSP candidate Pravesh Singh says, “There is acute problem of irrigation in Sareni block of the district. Canal water does not reach here. Besides problems of drinking water and bad roads are everywhere.”
BJP’s Aggarwal, however, says that SP candidates won in 2012 Assembly election here as people were angry with BSP. He believes this time he will get anti-Congress votes as there a “Modi storm” in Raebareli and “times have changed”.
The constituency, which boasts of top educational and skill development institutes like National Institute of Fashion Technology, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology and Footwear Design and Development Institute, also suffers from below national average literacy.
The All India literacy rate, according to 2011 census, is 82.14 per cent for men and 65.46 for women, but in Raebareli, it was 79.39 per cent for males and 58.06 per cent for females.