Smriti Irani on Thursday recorded an electoral win that is likely to go down in the annals of India's history as she defeated Rahul Gandhi - the pre-eminent Nehru-Gandhi scion - in his own constituency and family bastion Amethi, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
In her first interview since that win, speaking exclusively to Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, Smriti Irani spoke about how she felt after breaching the Congress bastion, her plans for Amethi, and in the upcoming Modi government.
When asked about how she felt when Rahul Gandhi conceded defeat, she said:
"I was not taken aback when he conceded because that was not my focus. We shouldn't take the people of Amethi for granted. If as a candidate of BJP I say that 'Oh I knew this from the beginning', that will be disrespectful to the people of Amethi. I think it is to the credit of the people of Amethi that nobody ever take them for granted. And I think while Mr Gandhi may have conceded, I wanted to respect the mandate and I think that was the most appropriate way because in an election every vote matters. Until the last vote is not counted, I think election can change"
READ: 2019 Lok Sabha Election Results For Amethi, Uttar Pradesh: In Seismic Battle, BJP's Smriti Irani Defeats Rahul Gandhi In His Own Bastion
When asked, she also said that Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were not her focus.
On May 23, even as the counting was underway, Rahul Gandhi conceded defeat. However, Irani chose to speak to the country only after the sealed figures by the EC were in. As the BJP crossed the majority mark consecutively for the second time, the results were in that Irani has breached the Gandhi bastion of Amethi, winning by 55120 votes.
Rahul Gandhi was a three-time MP from the constituency and the Congress party had always won in Amethi except for two times - during the 1977 elections when Janata Party's Ravindra Pratap Singh won and during 1999 elections when BJP's Dr. Sanjay Sinh won.
Amethi went to polls in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha polls on April 29 amid charges of 'booth-rigging' by Smriti Irani and the sitting MP being absent from the constituency during the polls. With Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s entry in the political fray as the party’s General Secretary for Uttar Pradesh East, Amethi witnessed high-pitched and heated election campaigning from both sides, though Rahul Gandhi had also arranged to contest from Wayanad in Kerala. Smriti Irani who had been a constant in the constituency over the last five years after running her opponent close in 2014 had called him out for being an 'absentee' MP and had cited the lack of development there despite being represented by such an influential figure for 15 years.