"How's The Josh? I Say...": Smriti Irani After Losing Amethi

KL Sharma, a Gandhi family loyalist, is leading the battle in Amethi with over 1.6 lakh votes over Ms Irani

'How's The Josh? I Say...': Smriti Irani After Losing Amethi
New Delhi:

Union minister Smriti Irani, who defeated Congress's Rahul Gandhi in his family bastion five years ago, met what many would see as a crushing defeat in one of the key prestige battles in this Lok Sabha election. Mr Gandhi, meanwhile, won a record victory in Raebareli, where he chose to take up his mother Sonia Gandhi's mantle.

After the verdict, Ms Irani thanked those who stood by her.

"Such is life... A decade of my life going from one village to another, building lives, nurturing hope & aspirations, working on infrastructure - roads, naali, khadanja, bypass, medical college and more. To those who stood by me through loss and victory, I am forever grateful. To those celebrating today, congratulations. And to those asking, 'How's the josh?' I say- it's still high, Sir," she wrote on X.

In April, Ms Irani had scoffed at the prospect of facing Rahul Gandhi or his sister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, from Amethi, saying "whoever comes will be defeated surely".

But neither of them were  her opponent this time. KL Sharma, a Gandhi family loyalist, is a first-time contestant. But he won the battle in Amethi with more than 1.6 lakh votes over Ms Irani – three times her margin over Mr Gandhi in 2019. He has already dedicated the coming victory to the Gandhis.

What Mr Sharma has in an in-depth knowledge of both constituencies -- far more than Ms Irani.  As the representative of the Gandhi family in the two Uttar Pradesh bastions for decades, Mr Sharma also has a better ground connect with party workers and the people.

Giving her endorsement to the party choice, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, while campaigning for Mr Sharma in Amethi, had said, "He (Sharma) has been associated with Amethi for the last 40 years. He was associated with my father (Rajiv Gandhi) here. He also worked with my mother (Sonia Gandhi) and my elder brother Rahul Gandhi. He has dedicated his entire life to Amethi".

The result in Amethi is expected to vindicate the Congress, which was smarting from the BJP victory of five years ago, when Rahul Gandhi lost to Ms Irani after representing Amethi for three terms. The constituency was once held by Mr Gandhi's uncle Sanjay Gandhi and later his parents Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi.

Mr Sharma's edge is also part of the big surprise Uttar Pradesh -- the state that sends a whopping 80 lawmakers to parliament in this election.

At 7 pm, the INDIA bloc -- comprising Samajwadi Party and the Congress in the state -- held a strong lead over the NDA. The INDIA bloc -- Samajwadi Party and the Congress -- ahead in 44 of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP is in thirties.

The BJP had swept Uttar Pradesh in 2014 and held of its ground in 2019. This time most exit polls had predicted an edge for the party.