Irani: Miss In­dia Con­tender to Saas-Bahu to Min­is­ter

Widely ac­knowl­edged in BJP as a key mem­ber of Modi’s in­ner cir­cle

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics Modi - VASUDHA VENU­GOPAL

From a Miss In­dia con­tender to tele­vi­sion’s most pop­u­lar bahu to a politi­cian who gave Rahul Gandhi a dif­fi­cult time in his fam­ily bas­tion, 38-year-old Sm­riti Irani has had a me­te­oric rise in a ca­reer that’s not been short of sur­prises.

Irani, who cut into Rahul Gandhi’s vic­tory mar­gin at Ame­thi by more than half this time, is not just a fighter and a hard worker but also an as­tute politi­cian, said party work­ers. Daugh­ter of a Ben­gali-Pun­jabi cou­ple and mar­ried to Parsi in­dus­tri­al­ist Zu­bin Irani, she’s a mother of three, in­clud­ing one child from her hus­band’s first mar­riage.

Widely ac­knowl­edged in the BJP as a key mem­ber of Naren­dra Modi’s in­ner cir­cle, Irani, AGE, is seen as an “ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tor” by him. Modi trusts her to get his ideas across ef­fec­tively to diplo­mats, in­dus­tri­al­ists and other g roups. Dur­ing her cam­paign in Ame­thi, she of­ten spoke about clean­ing floors at McDon­ald’s to sup­port her fam­ily be­fore be­com­ing a TV star. “Madam was con­fi­dent right from the be­gin­ning that the Ame­thi (ex­pe­ri­ence) will re­ward her suf­fi­ciently. Shewent­there­toruf­fle­feath­ers,”said a close as­so­ciate who or­gan­ised her cam­paign in UP. An avid tweeter who uses so­cial me­dia ex­ten­sively to pro­mote Modi’s ideas, she also has an ad­mirerinGoachief min­is­terManohar Par­rikar, who be­lieves she is a “trou­ble shooter.” Irani joinedtheBJPin2003 af­ter be­com­ing a TV star. She con­tested again­stKapilSibalin the Chandni Chowk in Delhi in 2004 and lost. The same year, re­peat­edly tak­ing Atal Bi­hari Va­j­payee’sname,shetol­dreportersin Su­rat that she would start a fast-un­todeath ag­i­ta­tion if Modi did not step down as CM of Gu­jarat af­ter the ri­ots. Af­ter the party asked her to re­tract her state­ment or face dis­ci­plinary ac­tion, Irani is­sued an apol­ogy, and has ever since main­tained that Modi was mag­nan­i­mous to for­give her.

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