Union Minister Smriti Irani, who filed her nomination papers for the national election from Uttar Pradesh's Amethi today, performed a puja before going to the District Magistrate's office.
Smriti Irani also participated in a road show before the nomination. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath accompanied Ms Irani and will later address an election rally in Amethi. 62 km away, UPA (United Progressive Alliance) chairperson Sonia Gandhi too held a grand roadshow in Raebareli on her to way to file her nomination.
Ms Irani, who is filed the election papers a day after Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, and her husband Zubin performed elaborate rituals and sat around the holy fire.
Ms Irani was to file her nomination on April 17, but due to a holiday on that day (Mahaveer Jayanti), she changed the date, local BJP leader Durgesh Tripathi said.
In 2014, Smriti Irani lost to Rahul Gandhi reduced his margin of victory in a Gandhi family stronghold. In the past five years, she has repeatedly visited Amethi, a largely rural constituency around 130 km from Lucknow, and launched central government projects like the assault rifle manufacturing unit for which the foundation stone was laid last month by PM Modi.
Smriti Irani's narrative has been to highlight the Congress leader's "neglect" of the constituency. Rahul Gandhi's decision to contest from a second seat - Kerala's Wayanad - was seized by Ms Irani as an opportunity to attack him for "running away" from Amethi due to nervousness and insecurity.
The Congress has rubbished the BJP's allegation, calling the Wayanad move a big southern outreach.
"Do not support those who dream of disintegrating the country and dividing the society. This will weaken the country," she said yesterday.
"Amethi has given me respect as an elder sister and not as a candidate. I believe that serving Amethi is my param dharam (prime duty). All you should be cautious of the Congress," she added.
She also took a jibe at the Mr Gandhi because of the presence of his brother-in-law Robert Vadra at his nomination yesterday. "Rahul Gandhi was accompanied by his brother-in-law Robert Vadra during filing of nomination papers. I had yesterday(Tuesday) said that if 'damadji' is coming to Amethi, then the farmers of Amethi should be ready to defend their land," she said.
"People who are out on bail and accompanied by those neck-deep in corruption, are seeking an account of the army''s action," she said.
Amethi goes to polls in the fifth phase, on May 6. The parliamentary constituency has four assembly segments - Tiloi, Gauriganj and Jagdishpur (reserved) in Amethi district and Salon (reserved) in Raebareli.