Indian General Elections

FULL INTERVIEW: Smriti Irani Speaks To Arnab Goswami After Defeating Rahul Gandhi In Amethi In The 2019 Lok Sabha Elections

Written By Ankit Prasad | Mumbai | Published:

Union Minister Smriti Irani spoke to Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami on Friday, in her first interview after defeating Congress president Rahul Gandhi in his Amethi bastion.

Fresh off the headline constituency result of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections which saw a Modi wave - which Smriti Irani dubbed a 'TsuNaMo' - sweep across the country with the BJP winning a massive 303 seats in the lower house of India's Parliament, the Amethi MP-elect made a number of insightful observations and quotable quotes on a range of topics. Here are some of the best:

On the mandate of the people and the Lutyens' denial:

"In 2014 they tried to say that it wasn't a Modi wave but people disillusioned with Congress. Yesterday, people of India reclaimed India's democracy from Lutyens Delhi."

"I think Modi hasn't ever mollycoddled Lutyens zone which has been an entitled segment of Indian polity for years."

Anti-Modi Undercurrent or 'TsuNamo'?:

I think those who were connected to the ground knew there was a huge surge in favour of the Prime Minister. We could see it on the ground

On why she contested Amethi again despite having lost in 2014:

"To win the faith of 3 lakh people in 20 days indicated a feeling that they thought BJP wouldn't leave them. I owed it to them to go back, even in a so-called bastion."

On developing Amethi:

"Amethi gave 15 years to one person, and when people sit to reflect, they realise they gave over 5000 days of their life and if in even one of those days work had been done, their lives could have been different."

"For 2.8 lakh families in Amethi to get a toilet for the first time may not matter for the elite but to them it was about safety, it was about respect"

"Kudos to BJP for bringing change (in Amethi) despite knowing their candidate lost"

On not being fixated on her opponent:

"I was genuinely fixated on delivering on promises I had made. And Congress had inkling that this was coming, that a 'TsuNaMo' was coming"

On political attacks and having to bear them:

"Ever since he (PM Modi) became CM of Gujarat there hasn't been a single day that he hasn't faced abuse. Still he thanked Rahul Gandhi, he thanked Naidu yesterday"

"It turned out well that they undermined me, attacked me. It was difficult when sexist attacks were made because it's hard to explain at home why a so-called educated person would go to such depths"

"I have seen the surge of sexist comments only when I became a minister and when I contested Amethi."

On Navjot Singh Sidhu's 'will quit politics if Rahul Gandhi loses Amethi' remark and being called a 'crybaby' by him:

"Possibly that person felt that this (attacking her) was the best way to fit into a new political outfit where he possibly needed to prove to Gandhi family that he's loyal to them, to get brownie points, but he's not the first one."

"During ups-&-downs, my family was with me. Failures teach you - who is your friend, who will kick you when you're down. The best things that have happened have been failures. I also have to credit people on social media, many have stood up for me"

On whether she 'forgives and forgets': 

"I never forget. That's why I put out on social media that 'The North Remembers'. I'm possibly the first grown-up who's watched Game of Thrones though my kids haven't."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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A post shared by Smriti Irani (@smritiiraniofficial) on

On not being 'shoved out of any doors':

"I will never be shoved out of the door, I will just open the door and walk out. I did the same when I was in the media, I left when I was at the peak"

"My story is the same as any tenacious Indian."

On those hailing from 'privileged families':

"Yes there are people who may be born in more privileged surroundings, but we can't hate them for that. You can, however, perhaps get angry if entry-levels aren't equal."

On her generation of BJP leaders:

"We are the beneficiaries of years of organisational buildup by BJP and forerunners. I tell my generation and people younger than me that we've had it comparatively easy."

"Atalji used to be stuffed into a train and travelled everywhere, Advani ji did the same, Narendrabhai never had it easy and neither did Amit Shah. We've had it comparatively much easier, we're beneficiaries."

"I think as a woman Sushma Swaraj has the most fantastic story ever because she broke into politics when it wasn't easy at all."

On having done 'every job' and destinies:

"When I was 17 I wanted to be a reporter... I've done every kind of job possible but you can't chart out your destiny."

On the 'democracy is in peril' brigade:

"To say that one Opposition leader lost and hence 'democracy is in peril' is to disrespect the mandate of the people."

On the people who have written headlines to the tune of 'Vijayi Modi yes, Vijayi Bharat no' after the results:

"Those people don't believe in Bharat"

"Modi has worked for the people's blessing & it's not been an easy journey. And he deserves this blessing. He's been gracious in accepting his wins in 2014 & 2019 and visiting LK Advani is also a sign of what BJP is about."

"People took the country for granted, sitting here and thinking that they'll chart the destiny of a billion. Modi came to Delhi and said 'we'll chart our destiny ourselves'"

"Modi understood what it feels like to live in squalor and to live without electricity. So nobody will understand that village that got electricity for the first time, but that village will understand."

"When we sit and analyse election numbers in an election, we sometimes forget that each of those numbers is a person. But Modi understands that, and Khan Market won't understand the link between Modi and that person."

Adding context to her Amethi win:

"BSP and SP didn't contest Amethi this time. Last time they had."

Watch Smriti Irani's full interview after her Amethi win - one that is likely to go down in Indian electoral folklore - in the video above.

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