The Hypocrisy of Smruti Irani

TV's Tulsi Joins The Saffron Family

by Smita Gupta, Times News Network. Article in the Times of India, 16th November 2003.

New Delhi: Reel life met real life at the BJP's headquarters on Saturday when Smriti Z. Irani, "Tulsi" to lacs of houswives around the country, joined the party. It was a match clearly made in heaven. And it was not just because Tulsi is the BJP's idea of the ideal bahu.

It is as much because as talk show hostess of the TV show, Kuch Dil Se (Something From The Heart), allegedly on "social issues", she could be the voice of the BJP as she harangues her unsuspecting guests.

On Saturday, like the "I know-it-all" Tulsi of her most celebrated soap, Kyunki Saasbhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Smriti was unfazed when she faced her first question after being introduced to the media. "As Tulsi, you have just lost your memory. Havey you by any chance lost in real life and wandered into the BJP's office?" "Not at all. It was a well-considered decision. I have always been impressed by the BJP tradition of listening to each worker and allowing all these views to fuse into the national consensus."

Clearly, for the BJP, inducting Tulsi into the Saffron Parivar on the eve of assembly elections is the political equivalent of a casting coup, since it is billing her as a cross between its very own Shabana Azmi on the one hand, and its swadeshi bahu — as party general secretary Mukthar Abbas Naqvi put it — to be pitted against the Congress' "videshi bahu" Sonia Gandhi.

So what does Smriti think of Sonia Gandhi? "Do we lack self-confidence in ourselves as a nation that we need to make a woman born in a foreign country our PM?" she says. And how did she jon the party? It was a joint venture by brothers-in-law Gopinath Munde, once the Saffron Deputy CM of Maharashtra, and Pramod Mahajan, BJP general secretary.

And what will Tulsi do for the BJP? Well, whatever her party seniors assign to her. But her special interest, she says, lies in working for the uplift of women, children and the youth.

Role Reversal

"I have taken the plunge into politics to do concrete." Smriti Irani tells Roshni Olivera. Bombay Times Interview:

RO: Was politics always on your mind?

SI: No. Throughout my career I have met so many people who have discussed their problems with me. But I have realised that the mindset is to look at leaders for solutions. I believe one has to stand up and become an active part of the political process instead of always questioning and waiting for the politicians to resolve issues. I decided to be part of the solution process.

RO: Film and TV stars are often roped in only for campaigning...

SI: In my case, it is not just about waving out and campaigning. I am a symbol of a normal citizen, of a working woman who is making time out for what I think is absolutely necessary. It is necessary that all we citizens contribute in bringing about a socio-political change. One doesn't have to be part of a political party necessarily. If you need to enjoy your fundament rights you have to be willing to fulfill your fundamental responsibilities.

RO: So, are you looking for anything inparticular, like contesting elections?

SI: I am looking to contribute, to make a difference. That is the idea of stepping into politics. Since childhood I have never been the kind to just sit and watch. I'd rather do something and cume up with a solution. Right now, I want to work for the betterment of women. So also child exploitation issue etc. There's plenty to do. About my role, that has to be decided by my party (BJP).

RO: What's the response like to your decision?

SI: I have people telling me you are just a normal citizen, why do you want to get into politics. Some say it's not safe and decent environment for women. It's genuine concern that people are expressing. But, it's sad that this is the way we think. This perception must change.

RO: What do you think about actors stepping into politics?

SI: Actors are also part of society. Why should an issue be taken less seriously if it's raised by an actor? I am as bothered about little things as anybody else. Whether it's paying my BSES or MTNL bills. Whether it is spending days standing outside a school for admissions for my child.

RO: But actors, barring a few, haven't made it big in politics...

SI: I'm not here to make it big. I'm here to work.

Helping Hands?

Newreport in the Mid-Day, Tuesday, 25th November 2003, Bombay Edition:

Smruti Irani, better know as Tulsi in the popular soap Kyuki Saasbhi Kabhi Bahu Thi ("Because Once Even Mother-In-Law Was A Daughter-In-Law!"), got a taste of the pitfalls of campaigning when she campaigned in Delhi for the BJP's Paharganj candidate Virender Babbar.

She arrived late and the crowd was restless. When she got onto the stage, hands reached out to grope her. Thoroughly felt up, Irani made it to the front of the stage. As she spoke, someone from behind her, placed his hand on her hips and was brushed off. Without batting an eyelid, Irani told the crowd, "I am your bahu (Daughter-In-Law). When a bahu steps out for the family, it has meaning. I am with the party."
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