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    Political career too dear for me: Smriti Irani

    [Interview by Subhash K. Jha]
    Sunday, May 22, 2005
    Smriti Malhotra Irani has a huge fan club thanks to her role in "Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi", but the actress says she has set her sight firmly on a career in politics.

    Smriti says that coming to be known and called as Tulsi - the character she plays in the Balaji Telefilms soap - over the last five years is no mean feat, but there is certainly more to her.

    "I was inclined towards social service since I was a kid. And I''''d have probably gravitated towards politics anyway," Smriti told IANS in an interview.

    Smriti was the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in Delhi''''s Chandni Chowk constituency but lost badly to Kapil Sibal of the Congress.

    Excerpts:

    Do you enjoy the role of the politician?

    I was always too private a person to be a politician. But then I was also inclined towards social service since I was a kid. And I'd have probably gravitated towards politics anyway. But because I became a known face through television it became a big issue.

    When I went to file my papers (in Delhi last year) to contest elections the press was like, "What's Tulsi doing here?" Some senior colleagues in my party were sceptical. They thought I'd be torn into shreds.

    You've become quite controversial because you speak your mind.

    And I'm happy with that. The younger generation of politicians should assert themselves. There're many issues confronting us on which we need to think, not as an individual, in terms of religion or as a political party but as a collective nation.

    If it comes to water, food and education we should all start thinking as one. When I'm asked if I'm secular, I find it very weird. Because at the end of the day, I'm an Indian. People should make their national leaders more accountable.

    Recently when I received threatening calls, the police told me to keep quiet about it or else the evidence might get tampered with. Though I felt utterly wronged I held my peace. Because sometimes, to do the right thing by your conscience and for the larger good, one might have to suffer a bit. But it's a small price to pay for the sake of the larger good.

    Doesn't your family life suffer because of politics?

    Not the least. My family understands the extent and nature of my involvement with politics and party. The BJP is giving me a bigger and better platform to perform. I take up only those commitments that I know I can carry off.

    So Tulsi or BJP?

    (laughs) By far my political career is too dear for me. But I'll never forget that "Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi" made me a household name.


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