"Congress Still Hurt That I Defeated Rahul Gandhi": Smriti Irani To NDTV

"It is fascinating to see that the India story is setting Davos on fire," Smriti Irani told NDTV on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Switzerland's Davos

Smriti Irani in an interview with NDTV on the India story at Davos


Union Minister Smriti Irani in an interview with NDTV said the "India story" is "setting Davos on fire" as four ministers, including herself, work to highlight the strengths of India's economy and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's agenda.

"It is fascinating to see that the India story is setting Davos on fire," Ms Irani told NDTV on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Switzerland's Davos.

Ms Irani, the Minister of Women and Child Development and Minority Affairs, said India has made a strong "economic case" for gender justice in Davos, in line with what her ministry does.

"We in totality represent the ethos that on the altar of reforms and growth, you do not have to sacrifice inclusivity. India has made an economic case for gender justice. We do not look at gender from the perspective of emancipation and empowerment, as they give an indication as if women are waiting for handouts," Ms Irani said.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a case very strongly that when you invest in women-led development, you invest in a stronger economy, you invest in a stronger purpose to fuel your country's healthcare sector, your country's education sector because it has been historically proven that when a woman's purchasing power, and consumption power involve a scale, then she tends to spend more of her money on these two important segments," Ms Irani said.

India's presence at Davos is huge this time with three other ministers of important sectors, apart from Ms Irani, presenting the country's growth story. Railway Minister Vaishnaw, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and Power Minister RK Singh shoulder big responsibilities as the world over nations compete for the best path to growth.

Ms Irani said earlier governments had been indecisive on reforms and the political environment had been unstable before 2014, the year Narendra Modi became Prime Minister.

"Leadership is about addressing challenges of the future...We are competitive, yet collaborative...I do not speak just because Congress wants me to speak; the Congress can't get over the fact that I defeated Rahul (Gandhi)," Ms Irani said, referring to when she defeated Mr Gandhi, who was then Congress chief, from Uttar Pradesh's Amethi in the 2019 general election. Mr Gandhi's defeat at the place known as the Gandhi family's stronghold till then had starkly demarcated the extent of the Congress's setback in the Lok Sabha election.

"Can you imagine the deep sense of agitation and hurt, that – Oh my God, she defeated Rahul Gandhi. Can we just find one tweet, one photograph to whack her with every day? I say bring it on. But would I waste productive time at Davos to discuss Congress or would I want to discuss issues related to women and children," she said. 

Ms Irani also spoke on PM Modi's recent address to BJP members where he asked them to "reach out to minority communities". Denying that the directive was meant for electoral gains, she said: "As Prime Minister and as the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, it is incumbent on him to continue to convey that we serve not only those who voted for us, we also serve those who did not vote for us."

The Union Minister also spoke on the recent controversy on the Shah Rukh Khan-Deepika Padukone starrer "Pathaan". "PM Modi does recognise that this is a free market where everybody, according to their perception, their taste, or their likes or dislikes will engage with a particular product, entertainment or otherwise...what is incumbent upon us is to continue to establish the rule of law, though law and order is a state issue."