Congress locks doors in Amethi, BJP checks in: Change in the air, on ground

NEW DELHI : That’s what the ecstatic BJP worker was telling everyone who walked past his party office Friday in Amethi, a day after Smriti Irani defeated Rahul Gandhi, ending his 15-year grip on the family stronghold.

While the defeat of Gandhi in Amethi reverberated across the nation and signalled the rout of the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections, BJP workers and supporters on the ground here were not very surprised. Change, they said, had been in the air for a while. Their party, they said, had been transforming the face of Amethi.

In sharp contrast is the Congress office, barely 2 km away. The day after the defeat, there are big locks on the doors. And that’s a sight Amethi hasn’t seen in years.

BJP leaders credit Smriti Irani’s victory to her “hard-work”. They list her many visits to Amethi despite losing in 2014, and recall how she would bring Union Ministers to announce different schemes.

Irani, on her part, thanked them in an audio message released Friday: “Mei Smriti Irani, aaj se aapki vidhivat sansad. Ek sadharan parivar ki mujh jaise mahila ko aap sabne ashirwad diya. Aap sabne jo itihas racha ussey desh aur duniya ne dekha (From today, I am your MP. You have blessed a woman from an ordinary family. The entire country and the world are witness to the history you created).”

The Congress workers are still coming to terms with the defeat. The party’s district president Yogendra Mishra has offered his resignation. No one knows what will happen to the party workers in Amethi. Will Rahul come? Will Priyanka come? They don’t know.