Controversy has dogged Union textiles minister Smriti Irani for the better part of this year. From handling the Rohith Vemula suicide while heading the human resource development ministry to IIT-Delhi’s director quitting a full two years before his tenure ended, it wasn’t the best time to be her.
On Friday, she stepped into a coffee store for a hot drink, and a few days later, that too became a much-talked event on social media. But this time, more for the lack of any noise than anything.
Irani, who enjoys Y-class security, was spotted walking into a Starbucks outlet in Connaught Place on August 5 with no security entourage or posse of assistants. The Union minister, who now heads the textile ministry, stood in queue like any other customer, waited her turn and left without so much as a murmur around her.
A customer recognised the minister, having seen her come to this outlet many times before, and posted a picture of her waiting for her order. Many others, however, barely realised that a Union minister had just walked in, bought something and left.
“She comes on her own. Stands in a queue. Politely places her order, goes to take it herself and leaves quietly. No fuss, no entourage, no security. There are not too many ministers like that,” freelance writer Nimish Dubey had posted on Facebook.
Clearly impressed by the lack of fanfare, Dubey wrote, “You can poke fun at her for all you like. But we have been seeing her at Starbucks time and again.”
Social media, which wasn’t too kind when the Vemula suicide snowballed into a major protest by Dalit students, was equally quick to share the Facebook post.
And the retweets and good words kept coming.
Smriti Irani standing in a Queue at starbucks to get her coffee ..https://t.co/zFzh2SLj3N— Lilly Mary Pinto (@LillyMaryPinto) August 6, 2016
After Smriti Irani's no security, no VIP fuss visit to Starbucks, Anupriya Patel chokes Lucknow with 200 cars. 50 shades of Modi Circus!— Samar (@Samar_Anarya) August 8, 2016
In May, in the face of a perceived threat from the Vemula fallout, the government had decided to up the security detail around Irani to Z category. Two months later, during a cabinet reshuffle, Irani was moved to the textile ministry, while Prakash Javadekar took over the HRD ministry, a move that was largely seen as a demotion.