An eloquent speaker, Smriti Irani was often the BJP's first choice for addressing the party's press conferences and defending it during debates in Parliament.
Smriti Irani, whose meteoric rise in the BJP saw her become the HRD and Information & Broadcasting Minister, is someone who would never give up.
After losing to Rahul Gandhi in 2014, she continued to cultivate Amethi in the past five years and this helped her reap electoral dividends — she emerged a giant-killer of 2019 by defeating the Congress president Rahul Gandhi in his home turf.
Though the 43-year-old popular television actor-turned-politician lost in 2014, she had succeeded in bringing down the victory margin of Gandhi to only 1.07 lakh from 3.7 lakh in the previous election. The voters rewarded Irani for her sustained efforts in 2019.
Throughout her campaigning, Irani asserted that people of Amethi want change and development and will vote for Modi.
“Kaun kehta hai aasmaan mein suraakh nahin ho sakta,” tweeted Irani, a line from a poem of famous Hindi poet Dushyant Kumar, soon after Gandhi conceded defeat in Amethi and congratulated her on May 23.
Days after her victory, she reached Amethi again on May 26. This time to give shoulder to the bier of her slain election aide and BJP worker Surendra Singh.
Irani had first contested a Lok Sabha election from Chandni Chowk in Delhi in 2004, but lost to Congress heavyweight Kapil Sibal.
She was elected to Rajya Sabha in 2011 and re-elected in 2017 for a second term.
The firebrand actor-turned-politician held portfolios of HRD, Textiles and Information & Broadcasting Minister during the tenure of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government’s maiden tenure from 2014-2019.
She often courted controversies, with the latest on her educational qualification stated in the affidavit submitted by her to the Election Commission while filing her nomination from Amethi.
During the campaign in Amethi, Irani was often locked in a war of words with Congress general secretary in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who dubbed her as an “outsider” and last month accused her of distributing shoes in order to insult Rahul Gandhi and said the people in the Congress chief’s Lok Sabha constituency were not beggars.
Filing her 2019 nomination, Irani said she passed secondary school examination in 1991 and senior secondary school examination in 1993. She said she did not complete her Bachelor of Commerce (Part-I), a three-year degree course from Delhi University’s School of Open Learning in 1994.
In a previous affidavit, she had reportedly said she graduated from the university in 1994, triggering a row over the veracity of her claim, with opposition parties alleging she was not a graduate.
Irani became the youngest cabinet minister in 2014 after the BJP won a massive victory in the Lok Sabha polls and was assigned the high-profile Human Resource Development (HRD) portfolio. However, she was shifted out of the HRD Ministry to Textiles after a two-year tenure replete with controversies.
Her stint as the Information & Broadcasting Minister was also controversial — from reportedly fighting with the Prasar Bharati Board to issuing a notification on ‘fake news’, which was apparently withdrawn at the behest of the PMO.
An eloquent speaker, she was often the BJP’s first choice for addressing the party’s press conferences and defending it during debates in Parliament.