Amethi: Union minister Smriti Irani took on Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today on his home turf – Amethi, the traditional seat of the Gandhis – questioning the alleged sale of land meant for a bicycle factory to a trust run by his family. The Congress dismissed her charges as “wild and baseless”.
She claimed 65 acres of farmers’ land, acquired at subsidised rate for setting up Samrat Bicycles factory, was sold to Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust on February 24.
“The factory had not been set up. The land should go back to the Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation,” she said.
“Samrat cycles land was closed down and the land belonging to them was auctioned through Debt Recovery Tribunal under court orders,” said senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi. “The Rajiv Gandhi Trust procured the land under court orders in an open transparent fashion.”
Ms Irani’s rally was held four days after Mr Gandhi addressed one, promising the constituency a “kurta-pajama sarkaar” — a government of and for the common man as opposed to his oft mentioned suit-boot government of Narendra Modi. Her charges ranged from broken promises, to corruption and even short memory.
“The people of Amethi were expecting a railway line from Amethi to Unchahar,” she told the crowd. “But three generations of the Gandhi family could not deliver it… I am happy to say that the rail line has been sanctioned for the first time by the Narendra Modi government.”
Mr Gandhi had earlier laid the foundation of the 67-klong Uchahar-Salon-Amethi rail line to be built at a cost of Rs. 380 crore.
She even ridiculed Mr Gandhi’s noting down the pointers for his speeches in Parliament, which had made headlines during the recently concluded monsoon session. “He talks in Parliament for maybe two minutes, but even for that he needs written notes,” the minister said.
Amethi and Rae Bareli – the traditional Gandhi bastions – had also been the only seats the Congress won during last year’s national election in Uttar Pradesh. Ms Irani had contested unsuccessfully against Mr Gandhi but had managed to secure nearly 3 lakh votes.