Union HRD minister Smriti Irani kept up her attack on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in his constituency Amethi where she spent her second day on Sunday.
Irani, the youngest minister in the NDA government, ducked — but did not deny — queries seeking her take on if she could be the BJP’s face in Uttar Pradesh for the 2017 elections. “I will do whatever the party asks me to,” she said.
The minister, who has nonetheless established herself as the face of the BJP in the Gandhi belt, questioned the Gandhi scion’s silence on the Malda issue. She said Gandhi’s no-comments response to a question on the alleged communal violence in Bengal was “reflective of the kind of politics they play”.
She also hit out at the Congress leader for having criticised the Modi government for the handling of the Pathankot attack. “I don’t think Rahul Gandhi’s advice is needed. The government is doing its job and so are the country’s security forces,” she said.
Rounding off her sixth visit to the Congress citadel since she famously cut into Gandhi’s victory margin in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Irani upped the ante against the BJP arch-rival.
Supported by some local farmers of Jais, she met the Amethi DM Jagat Raj to question how land meant for an inter college was used by a self-help group run by a Congress-backed Trust. Before this, she had already hurled a sensational land grab charge against the Congress in Gauriganj, alleging that the land meant for a cycle factory was wrongly transferred to a Congress trust.
Tasking the cadre of identifying the number of foundation laying stones put up by Congress leaders, she said, “We want to verify as to how many actual development promises translated into reality here.”
As 2017 UP polls approach, many expect Irani to throw a volley of similar accusations at the Congress top leadership.
Side by side, Irani is also deftly showcasing her clout in the Modi government. Having secured instant sanction for several Modi government schemes, she announced another big ticket project for Amethi on Sunday. “Union skill development minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy has agreed to my request to set up skill development centres in Amethi. We hope to train nearly 25,000 youths here over the next couple of years,” she said.