A BJP Leader Called Him "Gandhis' Chaprasi", Congress's Amethi Pick Replies

On the campaign trail for the May 20 election, NDTV caught up with Congress's Kishori Lal Sharma for a chat

Kishori Lal Sharma is up against Amethi's sitting MP and Union Minister Smriti Irani

Amethi (UP):

Gearing for his big poll fight against Union Minister Smriti Irani in Amethi, Congress candidate Kishori Lal Sharma said he still wants party leaders Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to contest from the prestige seat as it is a "part of their legacy".

On the campaign trail for the May 20 election, NDTV caught up with Mr Sharma for a chat. Mr Sharma has served as an MP's representative in Amethi and Raebareli and has been closely linked with the Congress's poll campaigns there for about four decades. Asked how it was different this time, he replied, "I am the same as before. This time, the leadership has given me a different role and I am working accordingly."

To a question on his statement that he wanted Mr Gandhi to contest from Amethi, a seat his parents and uncle have represented in the past, Mr Sharma replied, "I still want that. If there is a possibility, I would still want Rahul ji or Priyanka ji to contest polls from there. This is a part of their legacy," he said.

Amethi has been represented by Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi in the past and was won by Rahul Gandhi thrice in a row before he was defeated by the BJP's Smriti Irani in the 2019 election. Along with Raebareli, it is among the most-watched Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, primarily because they are Congress's prestige battles. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is leading from the front and overseeing the party's campaign in these two seats.

The BJP has repeated Ms Irani as its candidate. The Union Minister has said the Gandhis' decision not to contest the seat shows that they have conceded defeat. BJP leaders have described Mr Sharma as a "proxy candidate", with its Raebareli pick going so far as to call Mr Sharma Rahul Gandhi's "chaprasi" (peon). "If he (Gandhi) wanted to win Amethi, would they give a ticket to his chaprasi (peon)," BJP's Raebareli candidate and UP minister Dinesh Pratap Singh has said in an interview. 

Asked about the BJP leader's remark, Mr Sharma replied, "These are their values, my father was illiterate, but he taught me good values. I don't want to comment on this."