Smriti Irani is on a two-day trip to Wayanad
Amid the war of words between the Congress and the BJP over a video of Rahul Gandhi attending a party in Nepal, Union Minister Smriti Irani has reached the Congress leader’s constituency Wayanad, triggering speculation about the politics behind the trip and BJP’s plans in Kerala.
The visit by the Union Minister for Women and Child Development, apparently as part of the centre’s Aspirational Districts programme, is politically significant at many levels.
Ms Irani had contested against Mr Gandhi at Amethi in Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, but faced defeat. Over the next five years, she left no stone unturned to convert this loss to a win.
Her relentless campaign, both on the ground and on social media, paid off when she trounced Mr Gandhi at Amethi in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
While the Congress leader retained his place in the House by winning in Wayanad, the defeat in the family stronghold of Amethi was a massive loss of face.
Besides fielding Ms Irani against Mr Gandhi electorally, the BJP has repeatedly deployed her to target the Congress leader on a host of issues from time to time.
Against this backdrop, her visit to Wayanad has set off speculation regarding the BJP’s plans in the constituency.
Despite its electoral gains across the country over the past several years, Kerala has continued to elude the BJP. Its repeated attempts to latch on to regional players to corner some political ground in the state have not paid off either. Sending a popular leader to the Congress stronghold could be part of the party’s renewed push in the southern state.
BJP leaders, meanwhile, have started targeting Mr Gandhi on Twitter, saying that Ms Irani is reviewing welfare work in his constituency while he is busy partying.
After reaching Kerala last night, Ms Irani today chaired a meeting to review implementation of the centre’s welfare schemes in Wayanad. She also visited an anganwadi centre run by the central government PSU.
During her trip, which ends tomorrow, she will visit tribal settlements, review the aspirational districts programme and address BJP workers.
Waiting for response to load…