Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Who got the shoes? Footwear politics between BJP, Congress in Amethi

‘Footwear politics’ played out in Amethi over the last couple of days.

On Monday, it was Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who had criticised Union minister Smriti Irani for distributing footwear in Amethi, describing it as an insult to the people of the Congress bastion, who, she said, had “never begged” before anyone.

Smriti Irani responded promptly, claiming Priyanka was engaging in drama and urged her to visit Hariharpur village to know the reality.

Both the Congress and BJP are locked in a fierce contest for Amethi, which goes to polls in the sixth phase on May 6.

Watch | ‘Amethi insulted’: Priyanka Gandhi slams Smriti Irani for ‘distributing shoes’

During all this, no resident in Hariharpur appeared to be clear as to who got the footwear over which Priyanka and Smriti sparred.

First, Congress MLC from Amethi Deepak Singh shared a video of Hariharpur residents slamming Irani for naming the village as a recipient of the footwear largesse.

“Singling out our village is an insult to us. Are we dying without footwear?” the villagers could be heard saying in the video which local RSS leaders claimed was made by ‘influencing’ the villagers.

“Smritiji you have insulted the people of Hariharpur,” said Deepak Singh, the Congress MLC.

On Wednesday, residents of the village were seen targeting the Congress, saying their village along with Baraulia, the other village, developed only after it was adopted by the then defence minister late Manohar Parrikar.

After becoming a Rajya Sabha MP from UP, Parrikar had adopted two villages in Amethi – Baraulia in 2015 followed by Hariharpur in 2017.

Hariharpur residents are unanimous that while their village benefitted immensely from their association with Parrikar, no footwear consignment ever landed here.

“I don’t think if we ever had any footwear being gifted to us by anyone ever,” said Pankaj Kumar Pandey, a social worker with RSS link from Hariharpur said on phone.

“Probably it was sent to Baraulia after it was devastated by a fire in 2014,” said Rama Shankar Tiwari, another resident.

In Baraulia, Surendra Singh, former gram pradhan (village head), admitting that footwear indeed had come to the village though he was unable to pinpoint any specific date or time when the consignment came.

After Parrikar’s demise, Irani had in a TV programme first referred to the footwear thing.

“During 2014 Lok Sabha poll campaign Manohar Parrikar, who was then the chief minister of Goa, had come to Amethi and travelled the constituency in a simple vehicle. When he returned by evening he asked me what kind of a constituency is this where people didn’t even have footwear? I said sir, this is the reality of Amethi,” Irani had said.

The union minister said Parrikar had then returned back to Goa, got 25000 footwear collected through donations and sent them after elections to each of the villages he had visited.

First Published:
Apr 25, 2019 11:50 IST

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