Smriti Irani row overshadows Narendra Modi government’s second day in office

New Delhi, May 29: Smriti Irani‘s educational qualifications led to a full-blown war of words between the Congress and the BJP, as the former Wednesday intensified protest against an “undergraduate” being appointed human resource development minister whereas the BJP countered it with questions on Sonia Gandhi‘s academic background.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said there is a need to debate the appropriateness of Irani being given a portfolio which had earlier been held by luminaries such as Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and senior politicians like Karan Singh, V.P. Singh and BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi.

Although BJP dubbed the Congress apprehension as “frustration” stemming out from “worst ever electoral defeat”, Congress went on to claim the 38-year-old Irani lied about her degrees.

Singhvi said that in her affidavit when she was contesting the 2004 Lok Sabha election, Irani had mentioned her qualification as bachelors of arts (BA) which she passed in 1996 from Delhi University’s school of correspondence, but in her affidavit for this year’s Lok Sabha elections, mentioned her educational qualification as “Bachelor of Commerce Part I, School of Open Learning (Correspondence), University of Delhi – 1994.”

“The first issue is misstatement. Was the affidavit wrong? Only BJP can explain it,” he said.

Incidentally, Irani lost both the Lok Sabha elections. She is at present a member of the Rajya Sabha.

Answering queries, Singhvi said the party was not targeting Irani personally over her educational qualification, but noted that the human resource development minister heads the boards of premier institutions such as the IITs and IIMs.

Party spokesman Ajay Maken — whose tweet: “What a Cabinet of Modi? HRD minister (looking after education) Smriti Irani is not even a graduate! Look at her affidavit at ECI site pg 11!” — sparked off the controversy, said that he agreed that no qualification was mandatory to be in public life but the party was raising the point about Irani’s “appropriateness” for the post.

On the other hand, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti tried to shift attention to Congress president Gandhi, whose academic qualifications too had been in contention in the past.

“What is Sonia Gandhi’s qualification?” Bharti asked media persons here.

Congress leader Rashid Alvi meanwhile told IANS that there were only 10 ministers in the union cabinet who were either graduates or post-graduates.

Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi brushed off the allegation, saying the Congress was still holding on to its “arrogance” which cost it the Lok Sabha election recently.

“The Congress lost the Lok Sabha polls because of its arrogance, and yet the party is showing no signs to remain humble,” Naqvi told IANS.

The row over the actor-turned-politician emerged after activist and BJP sympathiser Madhu Kishwar described Irani’s appointment as an avoidable “grahan” (eclipse).

“Smriti Irani’s appointment not the only one disappointing or controversial but it’s like an avoidable grahan on a bright and shining rising sun!” she tweeted Wednesday.

  • Satish Chandra

    “”India’s greatest scientist and greatest living Indian publicly tortured in Harvard seminar, systematically and totally starved for up to 3 weeks at a time, made semi-starved and homeless and even blind for years, kept under 24-hour audio and video surveillance as well as surveillance of [and interference with] communications and electrical typewriter and computer use, document creation and photocopying, etc., by satellite for more than past 3 decades, systematically harassed and in poverty and neutralised and robbed of his work at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars per year, robbed of crores in his money and property in India by C.I.A.-RAW, forced back into exile in the U.S., all with full cooperation and participation of India’s RAW and India’s C.I.A.-RAW-controlled prime ministers, politicians and media — to keep India poor, weak and enslaved” and how this means the nuclear destruction of New Delhi and then the coast-to-coast destruction of the U.S.; see my blog titled ‘Nuclear Supremacy For India Over U.S.’ which can be found by a Yahoo/Google search with the title; my biography can be found in Marquis’ Who’s Who in the World, 2014 and earlier editions.”

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