Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani in a special interview to NDTV talks about the Modi government's two years in power and her experience in Amethi.
Here are the highlights of the interview:
• There's a lot of love in the people of Amethi.
• The people of Amethi always raise their hands to bless people.
• The people who had sought votes on basis of family ties did nothing for the development of Amethi for 60 years.
• I came first to Amethi as Smriti Irani, and now I have become 'Didi' (sister).
• The biggest challenge for people of Amethi was that those who came to power because of dynastic politics, didn't deliver what the people expected of them.
• As you saw today, we inaugurated a bus stand.
On achievements of government in 2 years:
• Fundamentally, education was never addressed to the grass root details. Students and children never knew of a benchmark to achieve with Saransh portal.
• There was a belief that this girl can bring change. There was a hope and confidence the people had in me.
• Whichever place I have been associated with in my political career, I have kept that relation with me.
On HRD Ministry's work:
• We have never had a students attendance track in the history of our education system - I am introducing this.
• I have rolled out benchmarks that parents and students can follow for the betterment of their child's education.
• For the first time under Saraansh - there is compatibility between Indian and foreign universities. This will bring about excellence.
On 2019 national elections:
• BJP will decide on my contesting in Amethi in the 2019 elections.
• I will follow whatever my party asks me to do. All I know is that I made a promise to the people of Amethi, and I am keeping that promise by returning regularly.
• I reduced Rahul's win margin by 80 per cent in the last elections in just 20 days. It goes to show that the anxiety and anxiousness of the people against Rahul Gandhi is immense.
• There is an evident fear within the Congress that there will be questions raised internally, that for how long will the party's political journey suffer because of one family.
On altercation with Congress leader Priyanka Chaturvedi:
• I gave that woman a new lease of political life by acknowledging a spat.
• I had many journalists tell me that her career was sliding and I saved it.
• If the woman had received a rape threat, she should go to the police and get adequate protection. Why drag me into it?
• Some people say Smriti Irani has her two children studying in America. They study in a middle class Delhi school.
• I don't have any Z security. I have always been without security.
On PM Modi's working style:
• Mr Modi, when he was the chief minister of Gujarat, and I was a in a yuva morcha (student's wing), sat with me to ask me of my 'anti-party comments', when I called for his resignation in 2002. He did not even ask me to apologise.
• He said that judge me by the work that I do. He asked me to be a part of any of the development programmes and help.
• I don't know any other politician who does that.
On saying 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai':
• The fact that every Indian takes pride in saying 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' rests the debate for me.
On Jawaharlal Nehru's name being omitted in books:
• It is thrust upon the education system in the country that a family name has to be included.
• State boards are free to make their curricula till the time it adheres with the national board education guidelines.
On charges of saffronisation of education:
• For me 'saffronisation of education' is water off a duck's back. This is a charge levied on any education minister of the BJP.
• The philosophy of education is to make you more capable, enhance skill, make you understand your constitutional responsibilities, how to be in harmony with your fellow citizens, your country.
• It gives you the learning of telling right over wrong. If that is what you call "saffronisation of education", then I am happy to take that tag.