One woman politician is subtly emerging as the voice of dissent against dynasty politics in India today. Smriti Zubin Irani, the outgoing Union Textile Minister, has won from Amethi fighting Congress scion Rahul Gandhi tooth and nail in his ancestral constituency. This isn’t the first time Irani has taken on Gandhi. In the 2014 elections, Irani surprised everyone by standing up against the Congress president who has won from this seat since 2004. She fought bravely then, managing to reduce his winning margin to one lakh votes. This year though, the fight was much closer and Irani, a bigger politician than she was in 2014.
Smriti Irani has emerged victorious in the battlefield of politics for sheerly displaying it to the electorate that she has it in her to take on a Goliath.
Irani’s heroism in 2014 earned her a berth on the BJP government’s cabinet, although her sharp and sudden rise wasn’t free of controversies. Irani, who had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2003, was appointed Minister of Human Resource Development in Narendra Modi’s cabinet. Although her lack of formal education and the controversy surrounding her degree (or lack of it) etc. took the sheen away from her meteoric rise. In a cabinet reshuffle in 2016, Irani was relieved from her position as HRD minister and sent to mind the less high profile ministry of Union textile.
The sheer audacity of standing against Gandhi, despite losing against him previously is admirable. The reason being that dynasty politics is deeply rooted in our country.
But all the controversy didn’t deter the former television artist from taking on Gandhi in Amethi again. The sheer audacity of standing against Gandhi, despite losing against him previously is admirable. The reason being that dynasty politics is deeply rooted in our country. The aura that accompanies a famous surname often makes an extraordinary candidate out of an ordinary leader. The voters choose dynasty and sentimental association with a certain family running into decades over issues like development and good governance.
However, times have changed and the aura of Gandhi dynasty is at its dimmest today. Add to that the fact Irani has been targetting Gandhi for neglecting has constituency consistently. I am not saying that Irani is a better leader than Gandhi, but she is certainly a clever politician, that too a gutsy one. It takes courage to foray into a battlefield like Amethi, which has been titled in favour of a family election after election, lose, and then fight again. Gandhi’s seat in Lower House is certain as he is winning from Wayanad. But to lose the sure shot ancestral seat of Amethi will not look well on his portfolio.
It takes courage to foray into a battlefield like Amethi, which has been titled in favour of a family election after election, lose, and then fight again.
So has Irani finally found a chink in Gandhi’s political armour? Will a loss from Amethi propel Gandhi and his party to make some tough calls out of shame? Only time will tell. But one thing is for sure, Smriti Irani has emerged victorious in the battlefield of politics for sheerly displaying it to the electorate that she has it in her to take on a Goliath. In India, we love such underdog stories, where nobodies beat somebodies to make it big. So irrespective of her win in Amethi, it seems like Irani has secured her future in Indian politics for a long duration now. Now all that remains to be seen is how she justifies her win and appeases the voters of her constituency.
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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.