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Smriti Zubin Irani (née Malhotra; 23 March 1976) is an Indian politician, former model, television actress, and producer. Irani is a Minister in the Union Cabinet of India. She is serving in the cabinet of Prime Minister Modi as Minister of Textiles and was given additional charge as Minister of Women and Child Development in the 2nd cabinet of Modi since May 2019. A prominent leader within the Bharatiya Janata Party, she is a Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha, representing Amethi.

Smriti Irani
Smriti Irani
Minister of Women and Child Development
Assumed office
31 May 2019
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
Preceded byManeka Gandhi
Minister of Textiles
Assumed office
5 July 2016
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
Preceded bySantosh Gangwar
Minister for Information and Broadcasting
In office
18 July 2017 – 24 May 2018
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
DeputyRajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Minister of State)
Preceded byVenkaiah Naidu
Succeeded byRajyavardhan Singh Rathore
as Minister of State (Independent Charge)
Minister of Human Resource Development
In office
26 May 2014 – 5 July 2016
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
DeputyUpendra Kushwaha (Minister of State) & Ram Shankar Katheria (Minister of State)
Preceded byPallam Raju
Succeeded byPrakash Javadekar
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
Assumed office
23 May 2019
Preceded byRahul Gandhi
ConstituencyAmethi
Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha
In office
19 August 2011 – 23 May 2019
Preceded byPravin Naik
Succeeded byJugalji Mathurji Thakor
ConstituencyGujarat
Personal details
Born
Smriti Malhotra

(1976-03-23) 23 March 1976 (age 43)[1]
New Delhi, India
Political partyBharatiya Janata Party
Spouse(s)
Zubin Irani (m. 2001)
Children3
ResidenceMumbai
OccupationPolitician, Actress

In the 2019 Indian general election, she defeated Rahul Gandhi - the country's principal opposition leader and President of Indian National Congress - to win the seat. Gandhi's family had previously represented the constituency for four decades. Prior to this, she was a Member of the Rajya Sabha for Gujarat and held multiple portfolios as a Minister in the Government of India.[2]

In the 2nd Modi Ministry she was again sworn in as a Cabinet Minister on 30 May 2019. She is currently the youngest Minister in the Council of Ministers at the age of 43.[3] On 31 May 2019, the government released the portfolio allocations for the ministers. She retained her post as the Minister of Textiles. She was also given an additional charge of becoming the Minister of Women and Child development succeeding Maneka Gandhi.

Contents

Early life and educationEdit

Smriti Malhotra was born to a Bengali mother, Shibani Bagchi, and a Punjabi-Maharashtrian father, Ajay Kumar Malhotra.[1][4][5] She is the eldest of 3 sisters.[6][7]

She has been a part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) from childhood as her grandfather was an RSS swayamsevak and her mother was a member of Jana Sangh.[8] She did her class 12 from Holy Child Auxilium School in New Delhi. Later, she enrolled in School of Open Learning at University of Delhi[9][10]

In April 2019, in a poll affidavit, Irani said she is not a graduate. She revealed that she undertook her exams for Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com) first year from Delhi University's School of Open Learning, but did not complete the three-year degree course. As a candidate in 2014 elections from Chandni Chowk in Delhi, Irani had declared that she had a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree.[11]

Acting careerEdit

Irani was one of the participants of the beauty pageant Miss India 1998 who couldn't reach the top 9, along with Gauri Pradhan Tejwani.[12][13][14] In 1998, Irani appeared in a song "Boliyan" of the album "Saawan Mein Lag Gayi Aag" with Mika Singh.[15][16] In 2000, she made her début with TV series Aatish and Hum Hain Kal Aaj Aur Kal, both aired on Star Plus. Apart from this she also acted in Kavita serial on DD metro. In mid-2000, Irani won the lead role of Tulsi Virani in Ekta Kapoor's production Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi on Star Plus. She holds the record of winning five consecutive Indian Television Academy Award for Best Actress - Popular, four Indian Telly Awards. Irani had a fallout with the producer Ekta Kapoor and she left the show in June 2007 and was replaced by Gautami Kapoor. She made her comeback in May 2008 in a special episode.[17]

In 2001, she also played the epic character Sita in Zee TV's Ramayan. In 2006, Irani co-produced the show Thodi Si Zameen Thoda Sa Aasmaan under her banner Ugraya Entertainment and Balaji Telefilms. She also played the lead role of Uma in it. In 2007, she produced the TV serial Virrudh for Sony TV and also portrayed the lead character of Vasudha in it. She also produced Mere Apne for 9X and portrayed the protagonist alongside Vinod Khanna. She also acted in a supporting role in Zee TV's Teen Bahuraaniyaan.[18]

In 2008, Irani along with Sakshi Tanwar hosted the show Yeh Hai Jalwa, a dance based reality show featuring celebrities along with their troops on 9X. In the same year she also produced another show on Zee TV, Waaris which ended in 2009. In 2009, she appeared in a comedy show Maniben.com, aired on SAB TV. She also co-produced the show in collaboration with Contiloe Entertainment. In 2012, she worked in Bengali movie Amrita[19][20]

Political careerEdit

 
Irani, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Former President Pranab Mukherjee at the Conference of Chairmen of Boards of Governors, and Directors of IITs at Rashtrapati Bhawan on 22 August 2014.
 
Irani and Prime Minister Modi at an informal interaction with awardee teachers on the eve of teachers day, in New Delhi.

Irani is Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) from Amethi constituency and won Loksabha elections in 2019 from Congress President Rahul Gandhi. Irani joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2003.[21] She became the vice-president of the Maharashtra Youth Wing in 2004.[22] In the 2004 general elections for the 14th Lok Sabha, she contested unsuccessfully against Kapil Sibal from the Chandni Chowk constituency in Delhi. She was nominated as executive member of the central committee of the BJP.[23][24] In December 2004, Irani, blaming then Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi for BJP's electoral losses, threatened to fast unto death until he resigned.[25] However, she later retracted this demand after BJP's central leadership threatened to take action against her.[26][27] In May 2009, Irani while campaigning for Vijay Goel's candidature in New Delhi, voiced her concerns about the safety of women in the capital. She advocated capital punishment for rapists as a deterrent.[28]

In early 2010, Irani was appointed National Secretary of BJP and on 24 June, she was appointed All India President of the BJP's women's wing, BJP Mahila Morcha.[21][29] In August 2011, she was sworn in as a member of parliament from Gujarat to the Rajya Sabha.[30][31][32]

Irani contested the 2014 general elections against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi constituency of Uttar Pradesh.[33] Irani lost to Gandhi by 1,07,923 votes, a 12.32% margin.[34][35] On 26 May 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appointed her as the Minister of Human Resource Development in his cabinet.[36][37] Her appointment was criticised by many people owing to her lack of formal higher education.[38][39][40]

Irani has been accused of misrepresenting her educational qualifications.[41] Conflicting affidavits were allegedly submitted by her while filing for different elections.[42] In June 2015, a lower court held that the allegations against Irani were maintainable and a delay in prosecution was not a valid reason for dismissal.[43] Irani asked people to file a PIL about her educational qualification to know about the truth behind the affidavit controversy.[44]

Irani was accused of favouritism towards Vishram Jamdar, a self-proclaimed RSS follower and a regional Sangh Parivar leader, for appointment as the Chairman of Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur.[45][46]

Irani's term as HRD minister proved to be a controversial one and saw a massive increase in volatile campus politics.[47] Irani made a speech in Parliament in which she discussed the 2016 JNU sedition controversy and the Suicide of Rohith Vemula.[48] University of Hyderabad doctor Rajashree M contradicted some claims made by Irani regarding the circumstances of Rohith's death.[49]

She announced to start new yoga departments in six new universities in June 2016.[50]

In July 2016, the Ministry of Human Resource Development was taken away from Irani, and she was given the Ministry of Textiles instead, in a cabinet reshuffle. This was widely seen by many political analysts as a response to her ministry being at the centre of many controversies.[47]

In July 2017, she was handed the additional charge of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (India) when Former Minister M.Venkaiah Naidu resigned from the Ministry to take part in Vice Presidential Elections. On 14 May 2018, the Ministry was taken away from her and her deputy Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was elevated to the portfolio. He will be the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.[51][52]

On 31 May 2019, Smriti Irani was appointed again to continue as a Minister of Textiles. Also, she was appointed with one more Ministry of Women and Child Development Minister in the 17th Lok Sabha under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.[53][54][55]

Win in 2019 general election against Rahul GandhiEdit

Irani, in 2019 general elections, in Amethi constituency of Uttar Pradesh, made historic win against Rahul Gandhi, congress candidate, by margin of 55,120 votes.[56][57][58] Rahul gave up with three lakh votes to count. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its top brass put in an all-round effort over the past five years to ensure this win. Irani made multiple visits to Amethi after her loss to launch central development schemes in the constituency, which hadn’t got that kind of attention under its Congress custodians. Congress continued to assume that the family loyalty factor would continue to work, Irani stressed how a record number of toilets and houses had been built by the Centre for the poor in Amethi since the Modi government came to power.

This is the seat from which Rahul Gandhi has been chosen as the member of Parliament since 2004. In 2014 Smriti Irani gave him a tough contest and gathered over three lakh votes in the Parliamentary constituency with the preparation of 45 days before the election.[59]

Controversy regarding education qualificationsEdit

Irani was accused of providing contradictory affidavits about her educational qualifications during different elections. In her affidavit for the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, she reportedly stated her educational qualification as B.A. from Delhi University (school of bhangra correspondence). However, while filing affidavits in her nomination papers for Rajya Sabha from Gujarat in 2011 and Lok Sabha from Uttar Pradesh in 2014, she said her highest educational qualification was, B.com, Part 1 from School of Open Learning at University of Delhi.[60][61]

However the court decided that she would not be further summoned.[62][63] It was later clarified that she has done B.com, Part 1 from Delhi University (not completing the full course till Part 3) in the affidavit she filed for Rajya Sabha elections from Gujarat in 2017 which stated "Bachelor of Commerce, Part 1. Three year degree course not completed".[64][61]

A freelance writer Ahmer Khan filed a complaint in April 2015 that Smriti Irani had filed an affidavit in April 2004 for the Lok Sabha elections, stating that she had completed her Bachelor of Arts in 1996 from School of Correspondence (Delhi University) but in another affidavit of April 16, 2014, filed by her for the Lok Sabha polls, it was said that she was a Bachelor of Commerce Part-I from the School of Open Learning (Delhi University). The plea said that the facts and circumstances reveal commission of offences by Smriti under section 125A of the Representation of People Act, 1951.[65] Section 125A of RPA deals with penalty for filing false affidavit and entails a jail term of up to six months or fine or both.[66]

The court had on 20 November 2016 allowed the complainant's plea seeking direction to the officials of EC and DU to bring the records of Ms. Irani's qualifications after he said he was unable to place them before the court. During the hearings of the complaint, the court was told by a poll panel official that the documents filed by Ms. Irani regarding her educational qualification while filing nominations were not traceable. Also, in pursuance of the court's earlier direction, Delhi University had also submitted that the documents pertaining to Ms. Irani's BA course in 1996, as purportedly mentioned by her in an affidavit filed during 2004 Lok Sabha elections, were yet to be found.[67]

On 6 Oct 2016 Patiala House Court on Thursday asked Election Commission to authenticate certificates of Union Minister Smriti Irani and later adjourned the matter till 15 October.[68]

On 18 October 2016, a Delhi court said that Smriti Irani will not be summoned for the fake degree case because the petition filed against Irani questioning her college degrees was an attempt to harass her.[69] The court said that the complainant may not have filed it if she were not a central minister. Metropolitan Magistrate Harvinder Singh said that original evidence had already been lost due to the passage of years, secondary evidence wasn't enough for court. The Magistrate also said that the complainant made a "delay of 11 years" in filing the complaint against Irani.[70]

Irani has also claimed to hold a certificate from Yale University which turned out to be a mere 6-day training program attended by a group of MPs at the time.[71]

Personal lifeEdit

In 2001, Smriti married a Parsi businessman - Zubin Irani. In October the same year, the couple had their first child, a son named Zohr.[72] In September 2003, the couple had their second child, a daughter named Zoe. Smriti is also a stepmother to Shanelle who is Zubin Irani's daughter from his previous marriage with a coordinator and former beauty contestant Mona Irani and now is a law student at Georgetown University in the United States.[12][73]

Electoral historyEdit

  • 2014 - Lost against Rahul Gandhi from Amethi (Lok Sabha constituency) even after gaining over 3 lakh votes
  • 2019–present - Member of Lok Sabha from Amethi (Lok Sabha constituency) defeating Congress National President Rahul Gandhi, on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket.

Works and appearancesEdit

 
Irani walks the ramp in fashion designer Manish Malhotra & Shaina NC's fundraiser organised for Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA).

TelevisionEdit

Year Show Character
2000–2008 Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi Tulsi Mihir Virani
2000 Hum Hain Kal Aaj Aur Kal
2000 Kavita Kavita
2001–2003 Kya Hadsaa Kya Haqeeqat Smriti
2001–2003 Kuch... Diiil Se Host
2001–2002 Ramayan Sita
2006–2007 Thodi Si Zameen Thoda Sa Aasmaan Uma
2007–2008 Virrudh Vasudha Sushant Sharma
2007–2008 Mere Apne Sharda
2007–2008 Teen Bahuraaniyaan Vrinda
2008 Yeh Hai Jalwa Host
2008 Waaris Producer
2009–2010 Maniben.com Maniben Jamankumar Patel
2012 Savdhaan India[74] Host
2013 Ek Thhi Naayka Swati

Theatre projectsEdit

Projects Language Character
Kuch Tum Kaho Kuch Hum Kahein Hindi Sargam
Maniben.com Gujarati Mani
Koi Taru Bau Saru Thayu Gujarati Devika
Muktidhaam Gujarati Mother
Garv Thi Kaho Ame Gujarati Chhiye Gujarati Mridula
Jai Bolo Telangana Telugu Mother

FilmsEdit

Year Film Character Language
2010 Malik Ek Personification of Dwarkamai Hindi
2011 Jai Bolo Telangana Activist Telugu
2012 Amrita Amrita Bengali

AwardsEdit

Year Award Function Category Show
2001 Indian Television Academy Awards ITA Award for Best Actress-Drama (Popular) Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi
2002 Indian Television Academy Awards ITA Award for Best Actress-Drama (Popular)
Indian Telly Awards Best Actress (Popular)
2003 Indian Television Academy Awards ITA Award for Best Actress-Drama (Popular)
Indian Telly Awards Best Actress (Popular)
Best TV Personality
2004 Indian Television Academy Awards Best Actress (Popular)
2005 Indian Television Academy Awards ITA Award for Best Actress-Drama (Popular)
2007 Indian Telly Awards Best Actress (Jury) Virrudh
2010 Indian Television Academy Awards ITA Milestone Award Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit

Rajya Sabha
Preceded by
Pravin Naik
Member of Parliament
for Rajya Sabha Gujarat

19 August 2011 – 23 May 2019
Succeeded by
Vacant
Lok Sabha
Preceded by
Rahul Gandhi
Member of Parliament
for Amethi

23 May 2019 - Incumbent
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Pallam Raju
Minister of Human Resource Development
26 May 2014 – 5 July 2016
Succeeded by
Prakash Javadekar
Preceded by
Santosh Gangwar
Minister of State with
Independent charge
Minister of Textiles
5 July 2016 – Incumbent
Incumbent
Preceded by
Venkaiah Naidu
Minister of Information and Broadcasting
18 July 2017 – 14 May 2018
Succeeded by
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore
Minister of State with
Independent charge
Preceded by
Maneka Gandhi
Minister of Women and Child Development
30 May 2019 – Present
Incumbent