INTERVIEW| Amethi doesn’t have laapta sansad anymore, it has an address in Gauriganj: Smriti Irani

We laid the foundation of Collector’s office, we made the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) office — all of which was missing before 2019 when Gandhi family ruled.

| Updated: 20 May, 2024 7:13 pm IST
Union Minister Smriti Irani With Rohan Dua
Union Minister Smriti Irani speaks with Rohan Dua

AMETHI: Union women & child development minister Smriti Irani is once again contesting from Amethi Lok Sabha seat, a constituency where she created a record by defeating then president Rahul Gandhi in 2019 by 55,000 votes. This time, Congress has nominated one of the Gandhi family loyalists, Kishori Lal Sharma, to contest against her. She speaks to The New Indian Executive Editor Rohan Dua on this fight, her home in Gauriganj & her description for Rahul as Lapata Sansad.

Rohan Dua: It’s been a privilege following your campaign. I vividly remember an interview in 2019 when Mr Amit Shah, who was right next to you, called the battle as one between Vikas banam Parivarvaad. Now, after five years, where that development stands and how the family dynamic has evolved?

Smriti Irani: I think you yourself are witness to the amount of growth we have managed to do in Amethi. When you came here 5 years ago you could barely find one ramshackled Dhaba. And now I am sure, you are happy to note that we have Pakka Saraks in 262 villages. Amethi, now for the first time is connected to expressways. We have built homes for 1.14 lakh poor families, toilets for 4 lakh families. You’ve interviewed people who said that they’ve waited for pools to be made for 40-50 years. We managed to do much of infrastructure work and apart from that I think what is now very obvious to people across the country is that Amethi used to be known as the destination of the “laapta Sansad”. Now at least People know that ‘Sansad’ address is in Gauri Gangj, Amethi.

Rohan Dua: It’s remarkable that during my recent journey from Gauri Ganj to this place, I encountered discussions about the absence of the SSP office and DM’s office for the past 60-70 years. You previously raised this issue in 2019, and now that you call this place home, have these missing offices finally materialized? If so, what other improvements are still needed?

Smriti Irani: We laid the foundation of Collector’s office, we made the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) office — all of which was missing before 2019 when Gandhi family ruled. We made the first dialysis center, the first city scan machine, first Medical College, first bridge over the Gomti River and Sai River. The oldest demand of the first Amethi bypass have been fulfilled ans even the Bus station in Tiloi at Amethi also. So there have been many firsts here. We never had a fertilizer rack that came as a courtesy from Prime Minister Modi. We never had a Krishi Vigyan Kendra, that happened. We never had a soil testing lab, that happened.

 

Rohan Dua delves into the deep conversation with union minister.

 

Rohan Dua: Last time, and of course,, I saw that two of your powerful friends and ministers also came here. Mr Manoj Sinha, and of course, MoS Sanjeev Balyan. He was also here. Today, of course, I also see him as well. Are they here?

Smriti Irani: One of the ministers is here, but not Manoj Sinha.Yes, we had many of my colleagues who came to help out. One of them, Sanjeev Baliyan is here.

Rohan Dua: I remember you took me to Manohar Parikar’s adopted villages. After the victory also, you brought Goa CM Pramod Sawant as well to make that memory a memorable experience for these village constituents.

Smriti Irani: I think that for us, this is a fight of ideology.

Rohan Dua: But you’re the only minister, who brings lot of colleague Ministers with herself!

Smriti Irani: No, I don’t bring them. They come as a courtesy because I think when we work in the Sangathan together, we don’t work as a singular unit, we work as a team. So, I’ve been very fortunate that I have worked for 22 years in the Sangathan across the country and the Chief Minister of Goa today is somebody that I used to work with when I was the political in-charge of Goa. Sanjeev Balyan, somebody I’ve worked for over a decade, especially in the areas of agriculture. I’ve worked with Satish Gautam, MP of Aligarh. So, it’s but natural there are a lot of people who worked with me for over two decades. They would love to come and see what am I doing in Amethi how can they help and I think that’s why we call BJP the ‘parivar’ because we don’t fight any battle alone.

INTERVIEW| Congress, SP can call me names; Akhilesh’s strange relation with his father is known: Smriti Irani

Rohan Dua: And the important part today is that I’ve saw the presence of Rakesh Singh and day before yesterday when of course SP’s leader Manoj Pandey joined, I ran into him last evening as well and he of course mentioned that whatever happened in Rajya Sabha election drove him away from Samajwadi party.  The fact that they did not go to Ayodhya temple’s invitation, there at the inauguration despite the invite. It is a big I think. Does it help your campaign?

Smriti Irani: Well we fought the last election against the Samajwadi party and the Congress party. And for us, we were used to victory against the entire alliance. When they come to the BJP or when they support the BJP. they show deference to the Prime Minister’s work. They show deference to even the amount of work that has been done within the state, and especially Ram Mandir is an emotive issue for people, irrespective of their political leanings or their political lineage, barring the Congress party and its ecosystem. So, when you see Manoj Pandey come to the BJP, recognize that he’s a sitting Vidhan Sabha member. When you see Rakesh come and meet the Home Minister, that’s under protocol as an MLA, that is his right and his responsibility. But when they speak about Ram Mandir, that is an emotive and religious and personal faith issue for them. That’s what I believe.

Rohan Dua: Akhilesh Yadav yesterday made a very strange remark. He said, “Smriti ab ‘Smriti’ banjayenge”. I also recollect, less than a year ago, two years back in the parliament, you escorted Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav from the staircases, you helped him.

Smriti Irani: Akhilesh Yadav had very strange relationship with his father. So, somebody who has a strange relationship within his own family, can I expect any courtesy?

Rohan Dua: Paneer Manchurian or going back to Delhi and having food with your kids?

Smriti Irani: No, I mean I’m eating here. That’s my house here in Gouri Ganj. But we don’t make ‘gobhi manchurian’ here.

Rohan Dua: When Congress made fun of you when you invoked Hanuman ji this afternoon and yesterday as well, you of course proudly always wear Hanuman ji as a locket as well!

Smriti Irani: No, it’s not a locket. I wear Ganpati Ji. I think if the Congress party is making fun of Hanumanji, isn’t it expected from those who hate Bhagwan Ram? So, if Congress is making fun of Hindu deities and gods, it is expected because Congress are ‘Hindu’ haters.

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