Several members of the BJP were surprised at Smriti Irani’s ouster as I&B minister. Though she made several missteps, people speculate that it was the National Awards fiasco that sealed her fate.
A senior member of the party, on condition of anonymity, says, “Some of us left for Cannes, and Smritiji was supposed to join us there. But she opted out at the last minute because she received orders from the PM’s office that she was needed in Karnataka. Upon our return from Cannes, we found out that she is no longer the Minister for Information and Broadcasting! What happened none of us really know. The initiatives organised at Cannes to promote regional Indian cinema were all Smritiji’s ideas.”
Other sources reveal that the Minister has been shunted and demoted because of her unpopular decisions. “Too many bureaucrats were being transferred, and salaries were being blocked. And finally, it was the National Film Awards fiasco that did her in,” the BJP leader says.
The fiasco that is being referred to is several award winners’ decision to boycott the ceremony after finding out that the President would not be able to personally hand over the awards to every one of them.
“If the President of India had communicated to Smriti his inability to attend the entire function, she should’ve communicated it to the awardees,” he adds.
Meanwhile, another colleague of the former Minister defends her by saying, “Till late on the night before the National Film Awards ceremony, Smriti was in talks with the President’s office, hoping to get the President to change his mind.”
He adds that her so-called “unpopular decisions” were made with the best intentions. “She was only trying to improve the running of various Government-owned cultural organisations. She had no hidden agenda. Her ouster comes as a blow to all of us, and to the belief that women in politics are poised to be given an equal position to men. The minute a woman tries to assert herself, she is seen as a threat.”