Union minister Smriti Irani’s son performs bhoomi pujan for her house in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi
Union minister for women and child development Smriti Irani on Thursday sent her son Johar to perform the bhoomi pujan (ground-breaking ceremony) on the piece of land where the minister intends to build a house in her Amethi Lok Sabha constituency.
During the campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Smriti Irani, who went on to wrest the Amethi seat from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, had promised to build a house in the district if she won so that locals could meet her easily and didn’t have to go to Delhi. She had accused Rahul Gandhi of not being accessible.
Johar did bhoomi pujan at the 11 biswa plot of land, a few kilometres from Gauriganj, that Irani had purchased for ₹12.11 lakh from Phoolmati Devi, a local resident, in February. One biswa equals 125.419104 sq metre.
Though Johar didn’t take any queries on the occasion, Smriti Irani’s local representative Vijay Gupta said the bhoomi pujan was yet another proof of the minister’s habit of keeping a promise.
“Ever since she became the local MP here, she has regularly maintained a connect with the people and is always thinking of the residents’ welfare. The decision to build a house in her constituency is also proof of her desire to remain accessible to the masses,” Gupta said to local reporters in Amethi.
There are 10 assembly segments that make up the Amethi and Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituencies. Smriti’s local residence is expected to be used by the BJP to play up how she has remained accessible to the masses.
In fact, once the house is ready, she would become only the third MP from Amethi to have a house in the constituency. She herself had indicated as much during the purchase of land in February.
“The people who poured their love and blessings on me wanted an MP who is available among them. In Covid-19 times, too, we connected with the people through e-chaupals and, before that, I reached out to them through programmes like Didi Aapke Dwar (Didi at your doorstep),” Irani, who is locally known as didi [elder sister] among the people, had said then. The Yogi Adityanath government in UP has been consistently boosting BJP’s efforts to continue the association with Amethi.
It has only recently sanctioned a Covid-19 testing laboratory for Amethi and has also cleared a proposal to upgrade the district hospital into a medical college.
The Congress, however, dismissed the buzz around Smriti’s house as a publicity stunt.
“For years, our leaders have a house in Bhuemau village. Anyone is free to have a house anywhere, but to make it a publicity stunt is deplorable,” said Congress leader Naseemuddin Siddiqui.
Siddiqui was referring to the fact that in 2011, seven years after she had been the Rae Bareli MP, Sonia Gandhi, through the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust, acquired 3.795 hectares from farmers of Bhuemau village, about 10 kilometres from Rae Bareli, for a guesthouse where she has stayed during her visits.