Amethi Ground Report: A New (And Strange) Challenge For Smriti Irani

Amar Govindarajan

May 20, 2024, 06:30 PM | Updated 07:40 PM IST

The strangest complaint from Amethi

Rahul Gandhi And Smriti Irani - file photos.
Rahul Gandhi And Smriti Irani - file photos.

Sumati Mehrishi, my old friend and colleague, has done an encore.

It's her second election ground report from Amethi - the first in 2019, and the second for 2024!

No Gandhi this time: Sumati spent more time to understand how old Congress loyalists have taken Rahul Gandhi's departure from here.

  • They see the absence of Gandhi as affirmation of Smriti Irani’s dominance on the parivar’s “home” and “hometurf”.

  • Pehle ka sab Raja saab ne kiya, phir Congress parivar ne kiya. Unko hee aana chahiye thha."

  • "Smriti Irani lost from here in 2014. Maidan nahin chhoda. Rahul Gandhi haare. Kyon maidan chhoda?"

But Smriti Irani has a new foe and headache: There is quite a bit of discontentment about cattle on the loose in the area.

  • Large groups of 'roadside' cattle are damaging crops far too often.

  • Voters think that the ‘goru’ issue is manageable by the BJP and expect it to fix it. 

  • “Modi ne goru khule chhod rakhe hain (Modi has left his cattle on our fields.”

Smriti Irani is definitely winning the seat. But that's not why we did the ground report.

  • Have people's aspirations - what to demand of government and what they fix themselves - changed?

Free Bus Rides Derailing Big Infra

Hyderabad Metro (image via Facebook)
Hyderabad Metro (image via Facebook)

Free bus ride schemes introduced by state governments in India are causing major financial troubles for large infrastructure projects like metro rail systems.

In the news: Larsen & Toubro (L&T) plans to divest its 90% stake in the Hyderabad Metro after 2026.

  • It blames the Telangana government's Mahalakshmi free bus scheme for women and transgenders.

By the numbers: The scheme has led to approximately 480,000 daily metro users switching to buses, drastically impacting ridership and revenues.

  • L&T had to secure a Rs 3,000 crore soft loan from the state to stay afloat.

  • The company is exploring selling real estate assets tied to the metro between FY26-FY31.

Yes, but: Free bus schemes are political winners, providing affordable transportation for marginalized groups.

The picture in other states:

  • Delhi's metro ridership has remained stable despite free buses.

  • In Bengaluru, the government claims the Shakti free bus scheme hasn't hurt metro revenues, which reportedly rose 30% last year.

  • However: The surge in metro revenues could be attributed to new line openings serving tech hubs.

  • What's missing: Authentic data on the true impact of free bus rides on other public transit modes.

The bottom line: They may be popular but free bus schemes without an integrated multi-modal strategy are financially crippling. And counter-productive.

Revive: Hampi's Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy

Image from Swarajya store.
Image from Swarajya store.

Today is Pradosha - the trayodashi tithi (the 13th lunar day) of this shukla paksha fortnight. Why we speak of this we'll tell you in a bit.

Launching REVIVE: An apparel series aimed at creating a buzz around the revival and rejuvenation of many of our cultural spaces and icons.

  • Revive: Hampi's Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy is our FIRST T-shirt in the series.

  • Badly broken and yet retaining a stately demeanor, Hampi's Narasimha Swamy murthy is a landmark icon.

  • It is also a reminder of bad times

  • And the need for revival.

  • We've recreated Lakshmi, the Shankh and Chakra - the broken parts, in simple, visible graphics.

About Pradosha: The worship of Vishnu in the form of Narasimha is said to be auspicious for this day. 

  • Just like Narasimha - Pradosha too stands in the threshold between day (new) and night (old).

Two ways to buy:

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