Can Smriti Irani be the Prime Minister of India? The answer to that lies in the story of BJP since 2002. 

 The last one week in Parliament has been anything but calm. Star performer of the week, clearly Smriti Irani. There is something about our HRD minister which makes her stand out from the rest. No, its not her former career as a tv star! Her party doesn’t love her because she was the Bahu that every mother in law in India desired at one stage.  BJP doesn’t love her simply because she is believed to be the protégé of PM Modi himself. So what is it about her that makes her stand out. Here are 5 reasons that make her what she is…


She is easily the best communicator within the party. When I started covering the BJP in 1998, with Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the helm of affairs, it was a party that was blessed with intellect and some really sharp speakers. Look at the line up,  Pramod Mahajan—sharp as nails, Sushma Swaraj—who knew the constitution by the back of her hand, Jaswant Singh—who could be charming and erudite, Arun Jaitly—Who was beginning to come into his own. And then the captain, Atal Bihari Vajpayee himself! I do remember clearly that for a good decade thereafter, the BJP was believed to be a party which had so much talent but could never get its act together at the national level post Vajpayee era. It was almost like the era of Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman for Indian cricket team. Since their retirement, the Indian cricket team has suffered. On the BJP front, now with all the former gen next leaders becoming seasoned politicians themselves, Smriti Irani clearly is the one hope BJP has amongst the present set of leaders of the future


Its not just age which is on her side. Its also her ability to pick things up quickly. The present chaos she finds herself in Parliament will certainly add to the blips on her CV, but she remains the numero uno within gen next. She may get photographed with a palmist some day, get questioned on her educational qualifications the next day, get caught in Mahishasur debate thereafter, but she has remained unfazed. More than anything else, the present chaos has coincidentally brought her at the center of a debate which defines the entire RSS doctrine itself.  Cultural nationalism. Look at the BJP as a political outfit. Before the party was born, the likes of Hedgewar and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee defined the version of hindutva of the right wing. 1980 onwards, it was Ram Bhakt LK Advani who was at the helm. Likes of Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti, Govindacharya came, sizzled, but faded away. It took Narendra Modi and 2002 to turn the spotlight back on right wing hindutva. For me, what we are seeing in 2016 is in many ways the same debate that raged on in 2002 across India. As she attacks on the JNU row or defends herself in the death of Rohit Vemula, its this notion of a new age nationalistic zeal that she is now being identified with. 


In the lok Sabha polls of 2014, I did have the opportunity of hearing Smriti Irani at political rallies. Other than the obvious charisma of PM Narendra Modi, she was the one person everyone wanted to hear. I remember chatting up with a bunch of young boys and girls in Amethi after Smriti had delivered a rousing speech. KYA BOLTI HAIN, pat came the response. This parliament session, she has obviously infused a sense of passion to her oratory. Its almost like watching the TV serial that shot her to fame. I felt that when she got into a verbal duel with Mayawati, “ SAR KALAM KAR KE AAPKE CHARDON MEI RAKH DOONGI “, “ HAAN AAKROSHIT HOON MAI “, “ MERA NAAM SMRITI IRANI HAI AUR MAIN CHALLENGE KARTEE HOON KI MERI CASTE BATAO “. Such was the impact that even Rishi Kapoor, who obviously has taken to a lot of news viewing, tweeted, “ SHE SINGLE HANDEDLY DECIMATES THE OPPOSITION, FEMALE AMITABH BACHCHAN SO TO SPEAK “ .


But the advantages aside, Ms Irani perhaps has only one thing to work on. Simply put, its being large hearted. Just like Virat Kohli praising his chief tormentor Mohd Amir, wishing him success, Smriti too needs to work on that large heartedness. If MPs did write to her seeking admissions in central school, well who else would they have written to? Is it not the job of lawmakers to figure out ways and means of helping their constituency members? If someone came to her seeking favour, well all MPs do, that too all the time.


In this present generation of BJP, she is the one leader to watch out for. The one person who has the strongest chance of being the PM candidate or party president in 2024, not 2019. Just like Amit Shah was the chief leiutant to Narendra Modi, Ms Irani may well end up being the chief leiutant or the chief herself in ten years time from now. Watch this space.     

Tags: Smriti Irani, JNU, HRD, Narendra Modi