April 4 – BJP candidate Smriti Irani (pic) is yet to start campaigning in Amethi. But she has set the tone of her campaign by declaring that those (read Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi) who cannot develop their own constituency shouldn’t speak about the development of the country.
If Uttar Pradesh BJP spokesperson Vijay Bahadur Pathak is to be believed, they had got an indication of Irani’s nomination at least two weeks ago when they heard there would be a serious candidate against Rahul in Amethi.
“This was the reason that we had started campaigning there against the lack of development – the issue on which we are going to anchor our campaign,” he said.
Irani compared to Sushma Swaraj….
Irani’s nomination has reminded the old-timers of the journey of another BJP woman leader, Sushma Swaraj, who had suddenly, became important in the party after challenging Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Bellary in 1999.
The Congress, however, begs to differ regarding Irani’s challenge to the Gandhi scion. “Irani is a television artist and not a politician. She can only create some curiosity among the people, but she cannot fight such a serious election,” former UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi asserted.
In 2004, Irani was pitted against Congress heavyweight Kapil Sibal in the Chandni Chowk seat. Although she lost, the BJP appointed Irani as vice-president of the party’s Maharashtra youth wing. In 2010, she was elevated as a BJP national secretary and also national president of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha. Next year, she was sent to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat. At present, she also holds the post of national vice-president in the party.
Former beauty queen….
Going by Irani’s short political career, it has been a phenomenal rise by any account for the finalist of 1997 Miss India Beauty Pageant.
“In fact, there are many people from the glamour world in the BJP. But the journey from acting in Bollywood or on the soap operas to politics was never so smooth for others. Her political acumen is more discernible than her colleagues like Shatrughan Sinha and Hema Malini. While Shatrughan and Hema are still struggling to remain relevant in politics, Irani is being looked upon as the future BJP’s topmost woman leader,” Prof Deobrat Chaubey, a political analyst and professor of philosophy at Benaras Hindu University, remarked.
“It reminds us of Sushma Swaraj. Although she had lost by only 45,000 votes against Sonia in Bellary, she quickly rose through the BJP ranks. But it is obvious that the next generation will take over someday. The future is for leaders like Irani,” he added.
Concurring to the observations made by Chaubey, local BJP leader Govind Shukla felt Irani could become a giantkiller in Amethi. “Irani, who is already a household name because of her role as Tulsi Virani in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, may prove a Waterloo for Rahul in Amethi in the face of the Modi wave,” he said in Amethi. But the short period of time Smriti would get to campaign in Amethi could prove to be her undoing.