Modi 2.0 Cabinet: Smriti Irani, 'giant killer' who persists until she wins

Smriti Irani was administered the oath of office by President Ram Nath Kovind at the swearing-in of the new government at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.

Meet the ‘giant killer’ who defeated Congress President Rahul Gandhi in the Gandhi family pocket borough of Amethi. She started Modi’s first term as Minister of the high-profile Human Resources Development and later held the posts in both Information and Broadcasting and Textiles, but from May 2018 onwards, only held the post of Minister of Textiles. It is said that her high-handedness rubbed many officials the wrong way, including those in the Press Information Bureau and the PMO. 

A former television actress, Irani joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2003. In 2004, she was made the vice-president of the Maharashtra Youth Wing of the BJP. She rose up the ranks to become a National Secretary in 2010 and a spokesperson for the party in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Currently, she is a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat.

A controversy erupted over Irani's educational qualifications in 2015 after she was accused of filing contradictory affidavits regarding the same on two different instances. In one affidavit, she claimed to have completed her graduation whereas another stated that she was 12th pass. Irani had also claimed to hold a certificate from Yale University which turned out to be a 6-day training program attended by a group of MPs.  In yet another controversy, she had made certain remarks in the Parliament about Rohith Vemula, a research student in Hyderabad University who committed suicide. Accusing opposition parties of using 'a child's death' for political ends, Irani refused to take responsibility for Vemula's suicide. The minister had allegedly ordered the student's suspension on cabinet colleague Bandaru Dattatreya's insistence, for attacking ABVP students and engaging in 'anti-national activities' on campus.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel