- Surendra Singh, an ex-village head, was shot dead in his home
- He had earned praise from Smriti Irani in her speeches at public meetings
- Police said they have got "vital clues" in inital investigation
A former village head in Uttar Pradesh's Amethi, who worked closely with BJP leader Smriti Irani during her Lok Sabha campaign, was shot dead early this morning. Ms Irani reached his village this afternoon to attend his funeral and was seen carrying his bier. Amethi - a bastion of the Gandhi family for decades - had voted out Rahul Gandhi, its three-time lawmaker, this time and opted for Ms Irani.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath asked the state police chief to show results within 12 hours and the Lucknow police chief has been sent to oversee the investigation. Seven people have been taken into custody and they are being interrogated.
Surendra Singh, a BJP worker, was attacked at his home; he died later at a hospital in Lucknow where he was taken for treatment, the police said.
It is suspected that an old enmity may have led to the killing, but the police have not ruled out a political motive.
"We have come to know about an old enmity. We are also finding out if there was any political enmity. In initial investigation, we have got some vital clues," Om Prakash Singh, the chief of the state police, was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Surendra Singh was the former head of Baraulia village. He quit the village head post to participate in the BJP election campaign.
He had actively participated in Smriti Irani's Lok Sabha campaign and had earned praise from the BJP leader in her speeches at public meetings.
"My father was a close aide of Smriti Irani and would campaign for her day and night. After she was elected as the member of parliament from Amethi, a Vijay Yatra (victory procession) was carried out. I think some Congress supporters didn't like it," Surendra Singh's son told news agency ANI.
Smriti Irani defeated Congress chief Rahul Gandhi by over 55,000 votes in Amethi, a Nehru-Gandhi family borough, in a major embarrassment for the party that was routed in the national elections.
The BJP leader has been visiting the constituency regularly over the past five years, despite losing to Mr Gandhi in 2014. For the last three months before the election, she has been camping out in Amethi.
The Congress chief hardly visited Amethi in the run-up to the national election. It was his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who had been nurturing the constituency and campaigning in his stead. The loss of Amethi had pushed the party's tally in Uttar Pradesh - a state it once dominated in - to a single seat, Raebareli, that is represented in parliament by Sonia Gandhi.
(With inputs from PTI, ANI)