Friday, April 27, 2007


Rahul's dream selling leaves Amethi cold

D K Singh in Amethi | BS | April 26, 2007 | 01:51 IST

In his latest incarnation as the Congress's best bet in Uttar Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi may have proved himself a crowdpuller, making promises of all hues. But people in Amethi, his Lok Sabha constituency, are hesitant to buy those dreams.

The now-abandoned factories brought here by late Sanjay Gandhi and late Rajiv Gandhi beckon the attention of travellers. Amethi today epitomises everything that ails UP -- illiteracy, unemployment, law and order problems, et al.

Most of the people who had earlier sent Sanjay, Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi to Parliament still nurture affection for the incumbent MP, but the promises of the young scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family fail to inspire confidence.

Sipping tea with fellow villagers at a stall at Jagdishpur kasba, Jaikesh Mishra said, "When Rahul Gandhi came here a few months back, he said he would revive the Ruchina Textiles mill. A few days back, Priyanka Gandhi came to our constituency and said the same thing." His wry smile conveys the rest.

Mishra earns a living as a security guard in Lucknow. Like him, 1.80 lakh people in Sultanpur district -- most of which falls under Amethi Lok Sabha seat -- migrate to Maharashtra, Punjab and other states in search of jobs every year, according to a recent survey conducted by the district administration.

Jagdishpur assembly constituency is dotted with closed factories -- Arif cement factory, Malvika Steel factory, GCI Cement Works, Amethi Textiles, a paper mill�.

Among the surviving units are BHEL's and Indo-Gulf Fertiliser Plant. At least 50 per cent of the factories have closed down in areas adjoining the Sultanpur district headquarters in the past three to ten years, said a district official.

The few units that are still working, like the ACC cement plant in the Gauriganj assembly constituency and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd's (HAL's) in Korwa constituency, testify to the efforts made by Sanjay and Rajiv Gandhi to make Amethi a bustling, prosperous, VVIP constituency, a model that set a contrast to the rest of UP.

But Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, inheritors of the family pocket borough, not only failed to protect industrial units but also to contribute to progress of their own.

About three years after he was elected to Parliament from here, Rahul Gandhi's promises are yet to take concrete shape � a campus of Indian Institute of Information Technology and Institute of Pharmaceutical Science. Congressmen claim that a few others like Kolkata-based Hindustan Papers are preparing to set up shop in Amethi.

A former industrial worker at Mushafirkhana said industries had to be closed down due to power shortage, difficulty in transporting raw materials and unionism instigated by extortionists with political backing.

"Rahulji says it's all the state government's fault. But, did Rahulji stage a dharna or demonstration or something else to force a change?" asked Harishchandra, from a village near Mushafirkhana.

The Amethi MP has not been able to extract much from the Centre, either. For the past one year, the district administration has been requesting him to get a special package under the Indira Awas Yojna, to provide housing to 90,000 people in the district.

For all this, Congressmen have a familiar refrain -- let the party come to power in UP.

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