Amethi during the 1980s was very different from the Amethi of today. In the 1980s, it was considered to be amongst the most backward regions in the country. Upholding the pro development and inclusive spirit of the Congress Party, Rajiv Gandhi decided to focus his attention and work towards ameliorating the situation of the people of Amethi. This is why he chose to contest elections from Amethi and was elected as an MP for two terms from 1981. He continued to represent the constituency until his death in 1991. In a span of 10 years, Amethi witnessed drastic developments on all fronts- agriculture, law and order, health and education, industrialisation as well as connectivity. One of the most significant achievements was in the field of agriculture where wide expanses of infertile, alkaline land were transformed into lush green farms with good productivity.
Over the next decade, Congress MPs from Amethi continued to advance the work done by Rajiv Gandhi and contributed towards its development. When Rahul Gandhi began his political career, he decided to continue to work for the people of Amethi and has been representing the constituency as an MP for three consecutive terms since 2004. In his vision for Amethi, he highlighted three main focus areas education, agriculture and connectivity.
Rahul Gandhi’s attention to education is rooted in his firm belief that a good education is the foundation of development in any society. For the progress of any region and upward mobility of its people, education is a prerequisite. The Congress President’s focus has been to provide quality education to every student in his constituency by prioritising investments in a robust network of primary education and establishing world class institutes. He has transformed the face of education in Amethi, setting up five institutes of higher and specialised education.
Rahul Gandhi also identified connectivity as another focus area since it was crucial to make Amethi more accessible to and from other parts of the country. Apart from encouraging ease of movement, this would expand the scope of trade and employment and enable people to afford a better lifestyle. Over his three term tenure, Rahul Gandhi has used funds from MPLAD and other government schemes to construct an array of roads and highways connecting different parts of Uttar Pradesh and the rest of the country to Amethi. Better connectivity along with increasing industrialisation has also promoted many private enterprises to set up their production units in Amethi.
For Rahul Gandhi, promotion and protection of farmers’ rights and their livelihood have always been of utmost importance. Following the footsteps of Rajiv Gandhi who revolutionised agriculture in Amethi, Rahul Gandhi also prioritised the welfare of farmers. He encouraged a model where agriculture and the traditional mode of livelihood can coexist with industrialisation. Since Amethi is an agri-based society, he strives to promote and protect their livelihood by introducing efficient and modern techniques of cultivation and better infrastructure.
Due to Rahul Gandhi’s unfaltering endeavours to provide world class health care facilities to the people, the health sector in Amethi has also witnessed substantial progress during his tenure. The Congress President has always believed in reaching out to the last person in the line and his initiatives have been focused around making health care more accessible. Free eye camps- a pet project of Rahul Gandhi- has made significant strides in making eye care accessible and now caters to around 100 patients every day. The benefits of health initiatives have also permeated to grassroots due to the Self Help Groups which are present across almost all the villages of Amethi. The concept of Self Help Groups, which was introduced in Amethi by Rahul Gandhi to empower women, has now become a robust self sustaining institution bringing into its fold hundreds of women who work together in areas of financial inclusion, health, education etc.
Along with agriculture, industrialisation in Amethi has also thrived. Rahul Gandhi’s vision for his constituency entails a mixed model of development wherein along with prospering agriculture, the youth are also provided with enough job opportunities. To this end, many heavy as well as small and medium sized industries have been set up like BHEL, SAIL, Rail Neer etc, opening up several avenues for employment and contributing towards the upward mobility of people in the district.
In 15 years, Amethi has witnessed considerable growth in socio-economic and development indicators. However, since 2014, there has been clear signs of political sabotage by the BJP government in the centre and the state. Several projects set up by Rahul Gandhi have been stalled, cancelled or shifted outside Amethi. Such deliberate attempts at scoring political points have denied the people of Amethi the benefits of essential public infrastructure- a new railway line connecting Unchahar-Salon-Amethi has been stalled, the IIIT functioning for 11 years has been closed down, the construction of 2 new Kendriya Vidyalayas, which would've churned out five batches of students by now, is being delayed for over 5 years, Mega Food Park in Jagdishpur has been cancelled and the Hindustan Paper Mills which promised to provide job opportunities for more than 200 people has been shifted out of Amethi to Maharashtra.
Rahul Gandhi’s relationship with Amethi is not that of a leader-voter- it is strongly rooted in several decades of shared history. It is firmly entrenched in the close association and the deep bond he shares with the people of the district. From Rajiv Gandhi to Rahul Gandhi, the Gandhis have always chosen to represent the people of Amethi and have never shifted their constituency.
Amethi has a come a long way since the 1980s. Today, it is regarded as one of the most peaceful, self-sufficient regions in Uttar Pradesh and is an emerging educational and industrial hub. The people have repeatedly shown their faith and trust in the Congress party and as the party that has represented the district for several decades, we will continue to serve the people with dedication.