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Gandhi bastion falls to BJP's Smriti Irani

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Lucknow, May 23: In the hi-octane battle in Amethi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who was the sitting MP from there, lost to Union Minister Smriti Irani by, as per reports, a margin of 32,000 votes

In the first two-hours of counting, BJP candidate and Irani was leading, but by 12.30 pm, Rahul overtook her, and then by 4 pm Irani began leading again. As of 5.30 pm, Irani was leading by 20,000 votes. And now, she has won from there.

A loss in Amethi would be a big blow for Rahul Gandhi as well as Congress. Irani had given a tough fight to Rahul in 2014 elections but lost by 1.07 lakh votes. Amethi is a Congress bastion from where Rahul has been winning since 2004. Polling was held in Amethi during the fifth phase of the seven-phased general elections, and voting was held on May 6.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi

The 43-year-old popular television actor-turned politician continued to cultivate Amethi in the past five years despite her loss in 2014 to Gandhi and this helped her reap electoral dividends. Throughout her campaigning, Irani asserted that people of Amethi want change and development and will vote for Modi. Irani courted controversy quite often, be it her educational qualification or her stint in the Union Cabinet.

Rahul's sister Priyanka Gandhi had actively campaigned for the Congress president in Amethi. Rahul Gandhi also contested from Waynad in Kerala and won by a massive margin. Irani had cornered Rahul when Congress decided to field Rahul from Amethi as well as Wayanad. She had then said that Rahul was certain of losing to her.

Smriti Irani had been relentlessly targeting Rahul Gandhi alleging he is the missing MP of Amethi. She is also alleging that despite sending a member of Gandhi family regularly to the Lok Sabha, Amethi is still underdeveloped.

[People are still deprived of basic facilities in Amethi: Smriti Irani]

Rahul Gandhi contesting from Wayanad that has many say sent a negative message among the Amethi voters.

The Congress has lost a Lok Sabha election at Amethi only twice. In 1977, Sanjay Gandhi lost the Lok Sabha election and in 1998, Congress candidate Captain Satish Sharma was defeated.

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