Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The BJP's GenNext

The BJP announced that it would be fielding former TV star and now party leader Smriti Irani to fight Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and AAP's Kumar Vishwas in Amethi, which has always been a Nehru-Gandhi family bastion and where Rajiv Gandhi is still fondly remembered.

Many in the media have called Irani a sacrificial lamb who is fighting a battle that she has already lost. In 2004, she lost to the Congress' Kapil Sibal in Chandni Chowk (which itself has become an interesting contest in 2014). However, what people fail to see is that she is not an electoral politician but a grassroots worker. She has been working to build the BJP's base in Maharashtra and Goa and in the latter case, she was instrumental in working to script Manohar Parrikar's stunning victory in the last Assembly elections.

Politics, contrary to popular belief, is not just about elections. No party can survive if its work is restricted to a few months every few years. The continuous engagement with people and party workers at a local level that Irani has been doing for the BJP will be very important for the party ahead, irrespective of the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections. Moreover, it is heartening to see that at 38, and having begun her political life at 26 without any family credentials, she is one of the youngest leaders to have risen in the party, something that would be next to impossible to do in any other party except perhaps the Left parties. This fact is inspirational for young people across India who are otherwise greatly disillusioned by the political system. Indeed, it is to the credit of the BJP and particularly Narendra Modi that a young leader has been able to reach so far.

In Parliament, Irani puts most Congress leaders to shame. She has made several speeches and asked hundreds of questions in the Rajya Sabha, earning a reputation for being an articulate speaker who goes to great lengths to research for her speeches to ensure that they carry weight. She speaks on women's issues, on issues related to the youth and the state she represents. Clearly, her grassroots politics has prepared her well for this. As a parliamentarian, she has been rightly described as a Sushma Swaraj in the making.

Although the result in Amethi seems to be a no-brainer, Opinions 24x7 endorses Smriti Irani for the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency. Whether she wins or loses, we hope to see her continue to do good work for the party and the young people of this great nation.

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