Indian Express

Smriti Irani willing to take on Rahul Gandhi in Amethi

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Smriti Irani in Ahmedabad on Sunday. (Javed Raja) Smriti Irani in Ahmedabad on Sunday. (Javed Raja)

BJP national vice-president and Rajya Sabha member Smriti Irani has expressed her willingness to take on AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi.

Addressing a news conference here on Sunday, Irani said she did not have any desire to contest the election, but “if the party leadership ordained me to take on Rahul in Amethi, then I will definitely contest from there”, she said.

Irani said the Congress had already started giving indications of its defeat and therefore, leaders like P Chidambaram and Manish Tewari were not contesting this time. “On coming to power, NDA will face two major challenges of stemming corruption and (reversing) policy paralysis,” she said, holding policy paralysis responsible for projects worth Rs 8 lakh crore being stalled during the UPA rule. “NDA will inherit the legacy of a mismanaged economy, while NDA had left a legacy of economy of opportunity,” she said.

“Gujarat is yet to receive Rs 4,000 crore as sales tax and more than Rs 5,000 crore under the mid-day meal programme from the Centre. Since UPA is not giving that money, the state government is spending it from its own treasury,” said Irani, giving the example of discrimination against BJP ruled states. She also claimed that Gujarat was the only state that never took an overdraft to meet the expenses.

According to her, people of the country were now relieved over the prospect of NDA coming to power, as this means that investment would kick-start once the policy paralysis disappears. She, however, denied that there was any policy paralysis in Gujarat which was suffering due to subsidy being lapsed frequently. “Those policies lapsed because of bureau tic red tapism,” Irani said.

Shifted focus

Even as she started to draw the attention of the scribes to the “burden of subsidy” under the UPA rule, she sought to avert a poser placed before her on how the growth rate of the farming sector in Gujarat has showed a negative growth by 1.82 per cent. Instead, she said that Gujarat and other BJP-ruled states were discriminated against on fiscal matters.

When reporters remained persistent on getting a reply to their questions, Irani mockingly told television cameramen to turn their focus on those reporters, saying they too wanted to share the limelight. To this, one of the reporters sternly told her that being an actress, she may like the cameras’ focus, but not the scribes.

To save the situation, state BJP spokesman I K Jadeja wound up the meet before the argument could take an ugly turn.

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