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The making of Shilpi Tewari

March 21, 2017 15:34 IST

Shilpi Tewari

In 2014, she travelled to Amethi to work on Smriti Irani's election campaign.

In 2016, she travelled to Srinagar to hand over the national flag to agitating students.

In 2016, she came under the scanner for promoting doctored JNU videos on social media.

In 2017, she received a stole from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Dhruv Munjal finds out just who is Shilpi Tewari.

Why does the prime minister follow trolls?

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a man with myriad traits.

To his supporters, he is a charismatic leader with a steadfast tenacity that can put India on the path of greatness.

For the neutrals, he is a canny politician who remains the absolute master of rousing oratory.

But as Shilpi Tewari discovered recently, the prime minister has another quality to him that is perhaps grossly underrated: magnanimity.

Late last month, Tewari, a 38-year-old architect from New Delhi, received a gift. Inside the packet that had arrived at her doorstep was a fulgent peacock-blue stole, accompanied by a piece of paper with Modi's autograph.

The stole, it turned out, was worn by Modi the previous day, during the unveiling of the 112-feet Shiva statue in Coimbatore, a ceremony the prime minister attended with Jaggi Vasudev. 

"I saw the stole and liked it very much. And then, I just randomly tweeted that I wanted something similar," says Tewari.

Her wish was fulfilled almost instantaneously.

Within hours, Tewari was contacted by the Prime Minister's Office, and the stole arrived the next day.

"It is such a blessing. It is a surreal feeling," she says.

Being an architect, she adds, it was the exquisite design that drew her to the stole. "The design and the pattern piqued my interest. That's why I loved it in the first place." 

Over the last few days, Tewari has been persistently asked about what she plans to do with the stole. "Everybody wants to know that. But one thing is for sure: I don't plan to wear it," she laughs.

This is not the first time Tewari has found herself in the news. In the summer of 2014, during the general elections, a five-month pregnant Tewari left home and made her way to Amethi where Smriti Irani, now the Union textiles minister, was preparing to do battle with Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

"I was heavily involved in political commentary at the time. I had worked with Irani on the "Mere Sapno Ka Bharat" campaign, and she called me one day, asking if I wanted to be a part of her campaign," says Tewari. "I saw it as a good opportunity."

After Irani was handed a widely expected loss by Gandhi, Tewari made her way back home, spending more time at the architectural firm she had founded. 

Despite describing her brief tryst with politics as fascinating, Tewari is quick to add that the political sphere is excruciatingly strenuous for women.

"It is a dark and dirty place; the challenge is not something everyone can handle. Moreover, the environment you're in isn't really encouraging." 

Tewari has more than 100,000 followers on Twitter, including Modi, and is a vociferous backer of the Bharatiya Janata Party on the platform.

Even though she likens herself to a commoner, she may not be so ordinary, after all.

Last year, Tewari travelled to Srinagar to hand over the national flag and a letter of support to a group of agitating students at the National Institute of Technology, which had been the scene of tensions between locals and non-Kashmiris over a World T20 game between India and the West Indies.

"Travelling all the way to Srinagar is something I'm unabashedly proud of," she says. 

Apparently, actor Anupam Kher wanted to show his support to the students, too, but was denied entry into the city by the state police.

Her nationalistic instincts didn't stop there.

When the Jawaharlal Nehru University row broke out last year, Tewari's name featured in a report that held her responsible for doctoring a video that involved then Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union President Kanhaiya Kumar.

Tewari denies any wrongdoing.

"Irani was the possible target and I just got sucked into it," she says. "Later, I got to know through news reports that all videos with the police were verified. Nothing came out of it."

For now, with Modi's stole keeping her company, Tewari is happy to stay away from politics.

"I'm a complete family person. My world revolves around my two kids, and I'm content here," she says with a smile.

Dhruv Munjal