It has long been claimed that actors can not be good politicians, because actors are known for faking emotions. Though the jinx around this theory had been beaten down in pieces in different states, it needed to be shattered at the national level. Well, Smriti Irani is doing this on the national level. Her roller coaster journey from ‘Bahu’ to the political giant killer is a prime example of that.
Smriti Zubin Irani was born on 23rd March 1976 in a multi-cultural family. Her paternal side traces its origin from a Marathi Hindu family, while her maternal instincts are from Bengal. Right from her childhood, she has been groomed under the aegis of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Her grandfather was a swayamsevak and her mother was a member of Jana Sangh.
Smriti was a bright student during childhood. However, during her college days, the cinematic industry drew her attention. She decided to give herself a chance. She started her career as a participant in the beauty pageant Miss India 1998. In the same year, she appeared in a song “Boliyan” of the album “Saawan Mein Lag Gayi Aag” with Mika Singh. Later she acted in various tv serials like Aatish, Hum Hain Kal Aaj Aur Kal, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi on Star Plus, Kavita on DD metro.
She holds the record of winning five consecutive Indian Television Academy Awards for Best Actress – Popular, four Indian Telly Awards.
Marriage and political career
In between her busy schedule, Smriti got married to a Parsi businessman, Zubin Irani. They have 3 children. In 2003, she joined the BJP. Within a year, she was trusted by the party to contest against Kapil Sibbal in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. During the same year, she developed political differences with then Gujarat CM, Narendra Modi, which was later sorted out.
Due to her eloquent and confident stances on various issues, she was nominated as an executive member of the central committee of the BJP. Irani is one of the few people to make women’s safety an election issue. In 2010, she was appointed president of BJP Mahila Morcha, women’s wing of BJP.
Women face of BJP
Smriti Irani has always been a vocal supporter of women’s rights to live with respect and dignity in the country. Due to her incessant support for women’s cause in the wake of the 2012 Delhi Gang-rape, her political journey was fast-tracked. She emerged as one of the formidable women faces of BJP in the 2014 elections.
Though, Irani had started to contribute in Parliament as Rajya Sabha MP from 2011 itself, its 2014 General elections, which can truly be termed as a turning point of her political career. Though she lost the seat, her challenge to Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, a Gandhi family’s den, brought appreciation from every quarter.
Handled multiple ministries in Modi 1. O
Modi government decided to hand her the responsibility of the dilapidated human resource ministry. In her two years of a small stint as HRD ministry, she handled various narrative changing controversies like Rohit Vemula’s suicide and JNU sedition case with full political maturity. Before changing her portfolio to the textile industry, Irani announced setting up new yoga departments in six universities.
In July 2016, she was handed the post of textile minister in the Modi government. She drew appreciation from stakeholders for her post and even after the 2019 elections, she was re-handed in this portfolio. She also managed the workload of the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting between 2017-18.
Won Amethi on her own
When Smriti was handling multiple ministries, she did not forget to serve the people of Amethi. She started a multi-pronged strategy to serve the people of Amethi. She was there to ensure that all the benefits of central and state government schemes reach the actual beneficiaries. She became a known face in every locality. She became more accessible to the people of Amethi than Rahul Gandhi himself.
Confident of her groundwork, Smriti again challenged Rahul for Amethi in the 2019 general elections. Probably, Rahul had sniffed defeat and that is why he decided to contest one more Lok Sabha seat from Wayanad, Kerala. Smriti became the first leader to throw out the Gandhi family’s scion from Amethi.
Before her fire-brand style of active participation, BJP was pushed as an anti-woman party by leftists looking to exploit women for their political mileage. Irani changed the perception around the nationalistic party. She is the true representative of an average Indian woman, a woman who can handle both her family as well as professional responsibility, without demeaning anyone of them.