Sonia's constituency Rae Bareli high on govt schemes, low on development indices

CoachAt the Rail Coach Factory in Rae Bareli. The project has seen many hiccups, from land issues to employees unwilling to shift to the town. The shells of the first three coaches to be made here are now in the process of being developed Vishal Srivastav

Since 2012, when it lost all the Assembly seats in its prize Rae Bareli parliamentary constituency, the Congress has spent an anxious year. It's evident in Priyanka Gandhi taking direct and personal charge of the constituency for her mother. It's evident in the party going all out to keep the ruling Samajwadi Party in good humour to help the seat retain its VIP tag. And, with a surfeit of announcements since 2004, including some last month, it's evident in the schemes that have come the way of this small town located between Lucknow and Allahabad.

Today, its 2 lakh people have a Navodaya Vidyalaya, a Kendriya Vidyalaya, a Krishi Vigyan Kendra, a Footwear Design and Development Institute, a centre of NIFT and a centre of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology, while work is on to set up an All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University and India's "first all-woman university". Rae Bareli also has a rail coach factory, forged wheel factory and Uttar Pradesh's first Pravasi Bharatiya office to facilitate its people going abroad.

Besides, in Uttar Pradesh, Rae Bareli is the only town after the SP strongholds of Etawah, Mainpuri, Kannauj and Azam Khan's constituency Rampur to have almost 24X7 power supply—a fact that attracted a rap from the Allahabad High Court recently. In the court's words, 24-hour power supply because of "VVIPs and protocol" was "arbitrary, illegal and illogical". Few VIP seats come close to Rae Bareli, though.

Although Feroze Gandhi had earlier represented the constituency for two terms, it was in 1967 when Indira Gandhi was elected to the Lok Sabha from Rae Bareli that it had its first stint with political limelight. After the death of Rajiv Gandhi, who was an MP from neighbouring Amethi, in 1991, the absence of any person from the Nehru-Gandhi family in electoral politics as well as the weakening of the Congress at both the state and Centre saw Rae Bareli suffer a dip in its fortunes.

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