The controversial queen of the Cabinet Ministry-Smriti Irani seems to have left a bad taste in many mouths, owing to her eviction from the HRD ministry to a less-significant Textile ministry. But wait before you judge. There could be more to it. While a few quarters of the Indian political fraternity believe that it was her big mouth that led to her downfall, there are others who believe that there must be a strategy behind this.
Nevertheless, it really becomes important to still analyse what really could have gone wrong with the eloquent Smriti.
JNU row took a toll over Aunty National
The whole debate over the anti-national slogans raised in the JNU campus took a violent turn when Kanhaiya Kumar,President of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union, was arrested and beaten in custody.
What attracted media attention was not Irani's justification of police action on the students, but her bringing up the topic of 'Mahishasur Martyrdom Day' in which Goddess Durga is depicted as a 'sex worker'.
Here is what she said:
What is Mahishasur Martyrdom Day, madam speaker? Our government has been accused. I miss today Sugata Bose and Saugata Roy in the House - champions of free speech, because I want to know if they will discuss this particular topic which I am about to enunciate in the House, on the streets of Kolkata. I dare them this.
Posted on October 4, 2014. A statement by the SC, ST and minority students of JNU. And what do they condemn? May my God forgive me for reading this.
"Durga Puja is the most controversial racial festival, where a fair-skinned beautiful goddess Durga is depicted brutally killing a dark-skinned native called Mahishasur. Mahishasur, a brave self-respecting leader, tricked into marriage by Aryans. They hired a sex worker called Durga, who enticed Mahishasur into marriage and killed him after nine nights of honeymooning during sleep."
Freedom of speech, ladies and gentleman. Who wants to have this discussion on the streets of Kolkata? I want to know. Will Rahul Gandhi stand for this freedom? I want to know. For these are the students. What is this depraved mentality? I have no answers for it.
Rohith Vemula took down Smriti's image
The controversial Rohith Vemula suicide case had hogged the limelight when it was given a controversial Dalit versus Non Dalith twist. Following which, it sparked a national debate about the oppression of Dalits in the society and the institutions even in the 21st century.
While Irani's explosive debate in the Parliament was a temporary face saver, as she dismissed the Dalit, Non-Dalit issue. Moreover, she also said that the suspension of the students prior to Vemula's death was done by the executive council of the university, which had members appointed by the Congress. This argument engaged the opposition in the Parliament till the time it was proved that the Vice Chancellor Appa Rao was appointed by Irani's ministry.
Sanskrit in IIT, Kendriya Vidyalaya
She made Sanskrit a compulsary language in the IITs, claiming that it holds the literature of science and technology. She even set up a committee to promote the language in IITs. Similarly, in 2014, Irani replaced German as a third language with Sanskrit in Kendriya Vidyalayas. A year later, a meeting between PM Modi and Angela Merkel reinstated the language in schools.
Ban of Periyar group in IIT Madras
Before the JNU row, the then HRD minister called a ban on the Ambedkar Periyar Students' Group in IIT Madras after complaints that they were inciting hate against PM Narendra Modi. The ban was removed after the opposition said that the government was stifling voices.
Delhi FYUP fiasco
After the infamous FYUP was rolled out in the University of Delhi, it was rolled back within a year of Irani taking charge as the HRD minister. She was criticised for overstepping the decision of an autonomous body.