Union Minister Smriti Irani Dares Rahul Gandhi to Send Her to Jail

AMETHI: Union Minister Smriti Irani has challenged Rahul Gandhi to send her to jail, vowing to continue her attacks on the Congress Vice President and his party.

“Some persons get disturbed with my Amethi visits,” the minister said in Mr Gandhi’s parliamentary constituency Amethi on Sunday, a day after the Congress served her a legal notice over allegations of land grabbing that she has made against the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust, which is associated with the opposition party.

“Yesterday, an advocate came to my Delhi residence when I was busy in a meeting. He has given a notice that he will take legal action against me if I make any comment against Rahul Gandhi or the Nehru-Gandhi family in Amethi,” Ms Irani said at a public meeting.

She would not be cowed down, the minister said, adding, “If Rahul or Congress have the courage, then let them put me behind bars. I will not remain silent. My relationship with Amethi is not that of elections.”

In the national election last year, the TV actress-turned-politician was parachuted by her party, the BJP to Amethi to take on Mr Gandhi, who has held the seat since 2004. Ms Irani lost the election, but is credited with having ensured a narrower victory margin for Mr Gandhi than in previous years.

Since the elections, Ms Irani has made regular visits to Amethi, launching scathing attacks on Rahul Gandhi and accusing him of neglecting his constituency.

Last month, she questioned the sale of land acquired from farmers at a subsidised rate for a bicycle factory in Amethi, to the Rajiv Gandhi Trust. Days later, an Uttar Pradesh court ordered that the land be returned to the UP government.

The Congress says the trust bought the land through an auction in a transparent transaction and dismisses Ms Irani’s allegations as “false and malicious.” On Saturday, it served the legal notice and warned that if the minister did not stop making “such imputations against the party”, it would pursue civil and criminal cases against her.