Smriti Irani has an uncanny knack of giving it back as good as she gets. Last month, in parliament's central hall as her fellow-MPs gathered around to wish her on her birthday, I too stepped up with a mischievous smile: 'Happy birthday ma'am. I won't of course ask your age today!' Pat came the reply: 'thanks, but don't worry, I am 42 today. Unlike journalists, I have nothing to hide!'

Life on Twitter can be nasty, brutish and short. Which is perhaps why within moments of the news breaking that Smriti Irani had been shifted out of the HRD ministry, her critics had pounced on her and were happily trending #ByeByeSmriti. “Aunty National” is now “Sari National”, they scoffed, a reference to her sudden move to the relatively low-profile textiles ministry.

Sharad Pawar is a man of few words, Smriti Irani a woman with a vast vocabulary.

Last week, when the HRD minister delivered a remarkable “performance” in a Parliament debate that captured the imagination of the country, she was congratulated by one and all (including this columnist).

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