LUCKNOW: Call it a Diwali gift or a thanksgiving gesture with one eye on future polls, Union HRD minister Smriti Irani has got about 15,000 saris, sourced from Surat, distributed to women in the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency. Around 2,500 saris, still in stock with Irani's representatives, will be distributed to women in far-flung areas.
"We originally planned to distribute around 12,000 saris," Vijay Gupta, Irani's aide, told TOI over the phone. "However, we then decided to distribute 15,000 saris. We've 2,500 more saris left to give away."
Gupta said the beneficiaries were picked from villages that had polled the highest number of votes for the BJP during the Lok Sabha elections. Saris were distributed at one village each in the assembly constituencies of Gauriganj, Tiloi, Jagdishpur, Amethi and Salon.
Gupta said the saris were selected by Irani herself and the entire lot was transported from textile mills to the constituency. He refused to give details of the mills from where the saris had been sourced, but BJP functionaries said the garments were purchased from Surat in Gujarat. Sources said the saris were originally meant for distribution during Dussehra, but Irani later chose to have them distributed around Diwali.
The Diwali gift is believed to be Irani's way of winning over a constituency she is grooming ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Earlier this year, she had lost the LS polls from the Amethi seat to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi by 1.07 lakh votes. She had, however, dented Rahul's victory margin considerably, bringing it down to a third of the 2009 figure.