From Getting Questioned over Educational Qualifications to Dethroning the First Family of Indian Politics: Why Smriti Irani is BJP's Ticket to Glory
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Smriti Irani is a name that is going to haunt the Congress for a long time. Literally been on the verge of getting wiped out and then rising from the ashes like a phoenix, Irani has emerged as one of the most powerful women in Indian politics. She defeated Rahul Gandhi by a not-so-large margin of votes. The bottle-neck fight saw Irani garner 4,68,514 votes whereas Gandhi, not far behind, had 4,13,394 votes.
Her contemporaries in politics including Mayawati, Ambika Soni, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Mamta Banerjee etc have had their confidence toppled, even her colleagues from the film fraternity including Hema Malini, Kirron Kher have not able to create the kind of fervour Irani has been able to.
Irani, over the years, has seen a meteoric rise, whether in the realm of film career or Indian politics. She reached the final round of the Miss India pageant in 1998 and then became a household name with Ekta Kapoor’s soap Kyuki Sas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. Her character of Tulsi, the protagonist in the serial was much-loved and admired. Post her TV stint, she did a few things here and there before plunging into mainstream politics in 2011.
Battling it Out with Rahul Gandhi
Smriti Irani became a member of Rajya Sabha in 2011. In 2014, she contested from Amethi. Amethi is an important constituency for Indian politics. It has been with the Indian National Congress since the last three and a half decades. The rural constituency is 100 km around Uttar Pradesh. More than being known as a UPA constituency it is known for its close alliance with the Gandhi family. What makes Smriti Irani’s win a song of triumph is the opponent she has defeated. On the other side of Irani was standing not just Rahul Gandhi but also an entire legacy of the first family of Indian politics which has not faced a single defeat since 1998.
To say that Indian politics has been a difficult road for Smriti Irani is an understatement. In 2014, she became the HRD Minister. After a moderately successful run by her predecessor Kapil Sibal, Irani then went on face the harsh storms of adversity when her educational qualifications were questioned. Irani, subjected herself, to all the questioning because of the inconsistencies in her own statements. Initially, she claimed herself to be a graduate in Bachelor of Arts and later on, went on to say that she was a graduate in Bachelor of Commerce Part-1.
Toppling an Old Structure
Irani, hence, had the mammoth task of battling the Gandhi heir and the Gandhi heirloom. Dethroning the legacy that has been intact for so many years takes herculean effort but Irani made it seem like a cakewalk.
To decode the way Irani defeated Rahul Gandhi doesn’t require the knowledge or manifestation of a thousand souls. Irani faced defeat in Amethi in 2014. Gandhi, on the other hand, got trampled by a sense of security and perhaps, overconfidence. He didn’t visit the constituency enough and Irani capitalized this fallacy to her advantage. As a result, Irani strengthened her foothold in the Congress bastion and took away the baton of leadership from Gandhi family.
Smriti Irani has a long road ahead. Does that mean that carpets for a new prime ministerial candidate have rolled out? Now that Smriti Irani has won and done it with glory, what is her next step?