Smriti Irani, (38)
Rajya Sabha M.P,
Ministry: Human Resource and Development
The youngest member in Modi’s cabinet, popular TV actress and one-time beauty pageant winner Smriti Irani was handpicked to hustle Rahul Gandhi in his pocket borough Amethi in the Lok Sabha polls. The 38-year-old did a fine job of scaring the Con gress leader as the lead changed hands often on counting day.
It didn’t matter that the Gandhi scion ultimately prevailed by 1.07 lakh votes -his winning margin was down from 3.7 lakh in 2009, and so was his stature.
It was a job well done for Irani, whom Modi referred to as his “younger sister“ during the campaign. A reward was likely . It wasn’t always like this. Inducted into BJP by the late Pramod Mahajan in 2003, Irani castigated Modi for the 2002 Gujarat riots and was made to eat her words.
Since then, though, she has gone places in the party becoming one of its more high-profile women members -an articulate spokesperson, a candidate against Kapil Sibal in 2009, the Mahila Morcha president and a Rajya Sabha member since 2011.
Much before join ing politics, though, Irani was already a familiar face across north India middle-class homes for her role of Tulsi, the righteous daughter-in-law in the game-changing teleserial, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. The role was perfect launchpad for the political career she chose later.