People of Amethi not behind Cong’s loss in 2019: Kishori Lal Sharma | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

People of Amethi not behind Cong’s loss in 2019: Kishori Lal Sharma

By, Amethi
May 07, 2024 11:40 AM IST

KL Sharma will go head-to-head against union minister Smriti Irani in Amethi for the Lok Sabha elections

On Friday, the Congress fielded Gandhi family loyalist Kishori Lal Sharma from Amethi, one of its family boroughs. In an interview with Umesh Raghuvanshi, the 63-year-old speaks about his association with the party and the constituency, and how he intends to fight his opponents in the elections. Edited excerpts:

Kishori Lal Sharma is Congress candidate from Amethi seat. (ANI photo)
Kishori Lal Sharma is Congress candidate from Amethi seat. (ANI photo)

How and when did you come to Amethi?

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I am from Bhawanipur, a village in Himachal Pradesh. It was (former prime minister) Rajiv Gandhi who brought me to Amethi in 1983 as a Congress coordinator. He had launched a training programme for the Indian Youth Congress. I was one of the people selected for the training.

What have you learnt in Amethi?

I follow many things that Rajiv Gandhi taught me during the training programme. I have also learnt from Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. I have learnt humility from the Gandhi family.

If you were not in Amethi, what else would you have done?

We (my family) have our base in Punjab. I have my own business. I don’t draw any salary from the Congress. My father established a bakery 70 years ago. That bakery is still there, but had I not come here, I would have probably expanded the business. But I feel attached to this place, and always maintained a low profile in Punjab. People have a lot of expectations and I enjoy working for them. I have spent 10 to 12 days every month here for the past 40 years.

What work have you done for the people?

We used to have Congress governments at the Centre and in the state as well. Rajiv Gandhi became an MP in 1981 and the prime minister in 1984. Whatever complaints we received from the people were forwarded to the government and resolved immediately.

When did you learn that you are being fielded by the Congress?

I came to know about it after 12am on May 3 (the announcement was made during the day). Although, I cannot reveal the name of the person who told me about it.

How will you counter the BJP’s campaign?

No one can counter others. People counter their leaders after assessing their performance. She (sitting Amethi MP Smriti Irani) should tell what she has done for the constituency in the last five years. We (Congress) will tell the people what we have done since 1982. It doesn’t matter what she tells people about us or what we tell people about her. People tell me how they were treated in the last five years.

What about the incident outside the Congress office on Sunday night?

Such incidents never took place in Amethi in the past. This is not the culture of Amethi. The people are stunned. They are not used to such a culture. They want to know what all is happening in Amethi. We used to have very peaceful elections in the constituency... They (BJP leaders) are not getting proper feedback. Such incidents are only hurting their interest.

What led to Rahul Gandhi’s defeat in 2019?

There were many reasons for the Congress’s defeat in Amethi in 2019. The people of Amethi, however, were not the reason. The role of the government and the official machinery affected the people. There was some problem with our management of elections. We were not able to keep in touch with our workers at the grassroots level. Our monitoring was not effective.

Is Rahul Gandhi keeping in touch with the people? What did he do for Amethi?

Rahul Gandhi has always kept in touch with the people (of Amethi). We helped the people during the Covid pandemic. We distributed medicines. Amethi got many development projects because of Rahul Gandhi. When the Congress was voted out of power, the incumbent government indulged in vendetta against Amethi. Our schemes were either closed or not funded.

Are you ready for the polls?

We are ready. Although we have little time left, we are holding meetings with our workers and people...we already have a strong party organisation in Amethi.

Have you worked on caste combinations?

The Gandhi family does not work with caste combinations in mind. They may matter in local elections, but not in parliamentary elections.

Your take on statements that the Congress has conceded its defeat in Amethi?

There is no machine that can read people’s minds. The people will decide the fate of the candidates.

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