Smriti Irani today tweeted a thank-you for Amethi, where her victory over Congress president Rahul Gandhi may be this election's show-stopper. "A new morning for Amethi, a new pledge. You placed your trust in development, grateful to Amethi," said the BJP leader.
Rahul Gandhi's defeat in Amethi - he won from the second seat he contested, Kerala's Wayanad - sums up the Congress's complete crash in the national election that saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi winning a dizzying mandate for a second term. Smriti Irani won by over 55,000 votes.
Amethi's turnabout has confirmed the Congress's worst fears - its biggest face failed to retain a family borough, something that had not happened even in 2014, when the party plunged to its lowest ever tally.
For political watchers, it is a feat comparable to former prime minister Indira Gandhi's defeat in Raebareli in 1977 to Raj Narain. There is talk about a plum job in the new Narendra Modi cabinet for Smriti Irani.
Now the Congress only has one seat in Uttar Pradesh, the most important state with 80 seats in the Lok Sabha. The BJP has 64.
Smriti Irani had lost to Rahul Gandhi from Amethi in 2014; her consolation was his greatly reduced margin of victory.
The former TV actor did not give up. She all but stationed herself in the largely rural constituency around 130 km from state capital Lucknow.
During her multiple visits to Amethi, Smriti Irani launched central schemes and projected herself as the alternative to a "missing MP".
In the 2017 Uttar Pradesh election, the BJP was rewarded with a victory in four of the five assembly segments in Amethi.
When Rahul Gandhi chose a second seat to contest for the first time, the BJP called it a sign that he planned to abandon the seat. The message went home.
The Congress failed to read the signs. Perhaps complacent that the people of Amethi would remain loyal, Rahul Gandhi hardly campaigned there. By the time his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra started visiting the constituency and addressing meetings, it was too late in the day.
Amethi, which had voted Rahul Gandhi, his mother Sonia Gandhi, his father Rajiv Gandhi and his uncle Sanjay Gandhi, was lost.
"Kaun kehta hai aasmaa me surakh nahin ho sakta (who says the impossible can't be achieved)," Smriti Irani tweeted on her incredible win on Thursday, quoting poet Dushyant Kumar.
Conceding defeat in Amethi at a press conference, Rahul Gandhi said: "I want Smriti Irani ji to keep people's faith and take care of Amethi with love."
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