On 11 April, Smriti Irani, the union minister of textiles from the Bharatiya Janata Party, filed her nomination to contest the Lok Sabha elections from the Amethi constituency, in Uttar Pradesh. Slated to go to polls on 6 May, Amethi has been a Congress bastion for several years, and the party’s president, Rahul Gandhi, has been the member of parliament from the seat since 2004.
The BJP had polled merely 37,570 votes from Amethi in the 2009 elections. It fielded Irani against Gandhi in the next general election. Irani’s aggressive canvassing brought up the party’s vote share to an impressive 300,748 votes, only around one lakh short of Gandhi’s winning tally.
For the upcoming election, Irani is once again pitted against Gandhi. In the following extract from “Role of a Lifetime,” the cover story of The Caravan’s November 2016 issue, Rohini Mohan traces Irani’s campaign in the 2014 general election, and how she continued engaging with the constituency despite losing.