She is feisty. She has no sense of occasion... Or not a greatly developed one anyway, the jury is still out on that one. And she reminds me of one of those American idol shows where a Susan Boyle comes along and no one expects anything and suddenly she breaks through the clouds of indifference and raises the bar, compelling all the cynical, sour-faced Simon Cowells to stand up and applaud. I dreamed a dream...
Remember her first speech? She came out of left field and everyone was sure it would be a dud and she stunned us with her rhetoric. No Class 12 dropout this, she was good.
And she did it again last Wednesday when she lacerated the Opposition over the JNU issue and set herself up as the cause for the next Parliamentary walkout.
“My name is Smriti Irani, I challenge you to tell me my caste.’ No one took up the challenge. They trotted out of the House instead.
"My request is, help me build this nation, not destroy it from within," she said, like Mark Anthony in drag but on a good wicket... Friends, Indians and countrymen…here I come, like it or not.
There is no foul here. Not that one can see it. Perhaps a bit shrill, a little dramatic, over the top… And why not, when so many of our politicians are mealy mouthed and hypocritical and she is, after all, a former TV soap star. And a finalist in the 1998 Miss India contest besides being the only minister to ever be photographed in a swimsuit since 1947, if that counts as a qualification.
So what tees us off about her? For one, she is more eloquent than most journalists are so that is annoying. Two, she has disappointed our expectations by, paradoxically, not being disappointing. That is bad form, you must respond to Mass Com’s idea of you or else you get a bad press. You are not docile, you do not suck up to media moghuls, you are not grateful to media, you march to your own drummer, no surprise you are in trouble big time.
Here is this chit of a girl, a lightweight model-cum-actress masquerading as a political entity so what we will do as members of the Mass Com cabal is conspire to skewer her image. This we will do by mocking her erudition, slanting her comments and editorializing over her conduct, everything she says and does will be sieved through this prejudice.
We will create a caricature, lampoon her and gradually her crumpled image will be bought and absorbed by the public who are, in our lingo, 'useful idiots.'
Her passion we will project as a touch of madness. Is the woman normal?
Her rhetoric we will sell to you as the sounds of a banshee. Hear her and shut your ears.
Her confidence we will turn into arrogance and her honesty into indiscretion.
It is easy to do when Mass Com becomes a monster.
In his book The Unforeseen President, John Perry writes: If you say nothing masscom will pillory you. If you dodge it, masscom will chase you. If you do not know the answer, it will place a dunce cap on your head. If you make an error, it will play that sound bite again and again until the whole world is laughing at you. If you misstate something it will mock you endlessly. If you apologise for the mistake it will project you as weak and flip flopping. If you argue you will be portrayed as thin-skinned…if you hit the right answer the masscom geniuses will crucify you for your gall."
The other fact he underscores is that masscom is unforgiving. If you were not conjured up and presented by the Press, it will never fully embrace you. They have to invent you to love you.
Irani came out of nowhere, a Modi choice without the tacit approval of the media and that is a cardinal sin. She is not a media invention.
Ms Irani is also trapped in the sticky web of a journalism that has lost its way.
‘Masscom has ceased to be journalism. It resists the difficult, tiring labour of digging out facts. It chooses instead the safe, lazy course of following a political agenda, colouring events as it sees fit for the public.’
The agenda here is clear; we have to cut her to size. She is becoming too big for her swimsuit.