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Raebareli/Amethi: While the country stares at economic woes, it's raining projects for Raebareli and Amethi, the constituencies of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Last week, the Union Cabinet approved the Rs 500-crore Indira Gandhi National University for Women and the Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University in Raebareli. The government will table two bills in the monsoon session of Parliament to set up these universities. But CNN-IBN travelled to the Gandhi bastions of Raebareli and Amethi and found that most of the projects announced earlier are still to take off. The Rs 1700-crore rail coach factory announced in 2007 was a non-starter until last year. Land allotment for the factory was cancelled hours before Sonia was to inaugurate it. The factory is now under construction and production has begun as well. The National Institute of Fashion Technology in Raebareli began functioning in 2007 but doesn't have a building to hold classes. It was only last year that Sonia laid the foundation and work started. Stories of such delays abound. The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, which began in 2008, doesn't have a building either. A Steel Authority of India project announced in 2007 is yet to take off. A hospital like Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences was announced in 2010. But only 100 acres are available for the project. Acquisition of land is still on. Raebareli has been nurtured by the Gandhis for decades. But their politicial fortunes here may well be dwindling. In the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls last year, the Congress lost eight of the 10 seats falling in the parliamentary constituencies of Raebareli and Amethi. "Just before the elections, leaders come and make empty promises," says a resident of Raebareli, hinting at the mood on the ground. "For the last few years, we have been hearing that an AIIMS-like institution will be set up, but nothing has been done," complains another resident. The Congress blames the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh for the delays. "A project can be completed only when the state government extends all possible help," says Congress leader and a parliamentarian from Uttar Pradesh Jagdambika Pal. Parasnath Yadav, a minister in the state government, holds the previous BSP government responsible for delays in the Raebareli rail coach factory project. Like Sonia's constituency, the situation is no better in neighbouring Amethi. A special economic zone promised by Rahul remains a dream, so do other development schemes he had talked of. The residents are bitter. Sandeep Shukla and his brother Yogendra say the absence of technical education opportunities is forcing students out of Amethi. "He (Rahul) can't just wave at us anymore, he should meet us. He can't just give assurances," says Sandeep. For some, Rahul's talk of realising one's aspirations is all smoke. "His ideas are theoretical. It would be good if he implements them. He should think about Amethi first. There are power and transportation problems here," says Pawan Singh Rathore, an engineering student. Jagdishpur in Amethi used to be an industrial hub. Today most of its factories are shut. Khurshid Aziz, a Congress worker, had to shut down his unit last year. He says Rahul had assured he would try for a special economic zone in Amethi. Aziz doesn't blame Rahul though. "There are a few things that Rahul Gandhi wants to do but is unable to. Some other things are in process but there are problems with them as well. The state government is not cooperating," he claims. In Amethi's Semra village, Shivkumari shows where Rahul and former British foreign secretary David Miliband spent a much publicised night at her home in January 2009. Little has changed in Shivkumari's life since then. She has a NREGA card, but says the village chief does not allot her work. "After he (Rahul) left, the neighbours said I had been given Rs 5 lakh, but I got nothing," says Shivkumari. Two of her five children dropped out of school because she had no money to educate them. "He (Rahul) promised he'll take care of my children's education but I got nothing," she says. A symbol of hope or a man of empty promises? Amethi is today asking if Rahul really cares.

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