Smriti Irani’s sharp rise reveals that determination can turn the tables in politics

File photo of Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani | Facebook

Even while grappling with controversies, Smriti Irani’s willpower clearly showed that she did not consider reverting to quitting politics.

Smriti Irani, a former Miss India contestant and a superstar in her own right on Indian television, joined the BJP in 2003. Her political career didn’t start off on a pleasant note, bringing defeat from Chandni Chowk against Congress leader Kapil Sibal in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

That was only the beginning as Smriti Irani would go on to become a public baiter of Narendra Modi, giving remarks in the media against him over the 2002 post-Godhra riots and holding him responsible for the BJP’s defeat in the elections. If that wasn’t enough, Smriti Irani would even threaten to sit on a fast unto death later that year with the sole demand that Narendra Modi resign from his post of chief minister in Gujarat.

But politics, as they say, is as unpredictable as it can be. Equations changed and within a few years, Smriti Irani emerged as one of Modi’s trusted lieutenants. Rising up the ranks — from taking the national president’s role of the BJP’s women wing to becoming a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat — it was a steep climb for her.

The turning point, however, was the 2014 Lok Sabha election, when Smriti Irani showed the grit to take on the giant Gandhi in his stronghold. Although she lost, her fight was rewarded handsomely by getting her the plum post of human resource development minister once the Modi government took charge.

Irani had her eyes set on Amethi ever since 2014 and had visited the constituency as many as 38 times in five years — a glaring contrast from Rahul Gandhi’s rare and fleeting appearances.

She nurtured the seat and fought a combative battle, eventually managing the big upset in 2019 elections.

Information and broadcasting minister Smriti Irani. Credit: PTI/Kamal Kishore

But while Smriti Irani may have managed to push Modi and Amit Shah to do a rethink on her, the trick, however, would lie in how she traverses through the next five years and whether she can really leave her prone-to-controversy side behind.

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