“Politics is my fulltime profession”—Smriti Irani
Smriti Zubin Irani, the well-known TV actress, popularly known as Tulsi Virani, TV producer and the animated president of BJP Mahila Morcha, is essentially a professional trying a paradigm shift in women politics. In an interview with Sonia Chawla, she talks about her political odyssey. Excerpts:
You are a famous TV actress. What promoted you to join the politics?
My family has been a part of the politics from past two generations and I am the third generation, as my grandfather was a swayamsevak and my mother was an activist of the Jan Sangh but I am the first one in the family, who has dealt in electoral politics and organisational work. After looking at the kind of ideologies that two generations of my family have been associated with and the social impact their work had, I felt that change could happen. When you become the part of political system of the country, mere social work is not enough.
Now-a-days, it has become a fashion that TV stars are coming in politics. Comment.
I think that one has to make a distinction between people, who have worked in the field of organisation and campaigning; the people who associate themselves with building the party and organisation; and people who are only seen in particular programmes. I feel our democracy gives everybody equal chances to participate in whatever measures and capacities, they want to participate. Today in politics, you have lawyers, teachers—in fact you have people from all professions, even the journalists are also joining the politics. I don’t know why only people from acting fraternity are singled out?
Is it true that after retirement from TV, many actors joined politics?
I have no idea but I am No.1 in television and still I am doing television and politics both.
Is politics your profession or part time?
Well, politics is my fulltime profession and acting is part time but that’s always been a case.
Being the president of BJP Mahila Morcha, what are your current plans and programmes?
Our basic focus is on empowering women by providing them an equal opportunity for education and employment. We initiate various health and education programmes and also the programmes that basically educate women about their constitutional legal rights. We also provide help to them financially in legal matters and I am proud to inform that we are the only organisation or the morcha in the entire political structure in the country which fought for the rights of women in the Army and managed to get permanent commission for women in the Army.
Today, don’t you think women are highly inclined to western culture as clearly witnessed in choice of their clothing, food, etc?
I don’t think so. I think that it’s a fallacy. I feel that this entire thought process that Indian women are westernising, stems from the little bit of ignorance about our country and culture. In my view modern Indian women know how to maintain balance with western way, which might educate them, help them empower, but their moorings are strongly rooted in their traditional ethos.
You are a well-known actress, who earned fame as Tulsi Virani in the television industry. Do you think that your role in BJP will get that much of prominence too?
I don’t like to insult the political system or the voter by trying to use the television image to gain any kind of political recognition. My organisation, BJP Mahila Morcha, has given me an opportunity to build the organistion and to serve the country. I don’t look any other parameter as a part of that.
You have achieved new milestone in TV industry. Do you feel it is equally possible in your avatar in political field?
I am the president of an organ of a national party, which is more prominent as I achieved this post only at the age of 34.