Union Minister Arun Jaitley today jumped to the defence of his colleague Smriti Irani who has been accused by the opposition of providing false information on her educational qualification in her nomination papers for the Lok Sabha elections.
Taking a swipe at the Congress — which has accused the minister of submitting contradictory affidavits to the Election Commission — Mr Jaitley said that the academic credentials of its chief, Rahul Gandhi, “may leave a lot to be answered”.
Rahul Gandhi, he said got an M.Phil “without a Masters degree”.
“One day the focus would be on the BJP candidate’s educational qualification, fully forgetting that a public audit of Rahul Gandhi’s academic credentials may leave a lot to be answered. After all, he got an M.Phil without a Masters degree,” Mr Jaitley said in his blog.
Smriti Irani’s educational declarations over the years yesterday inspired a Congress dig parodying a wildly popular television serial that featured the Union Minister before she joined politics.
Hours after Mr Jaitley posted his Facebook write-up, the Congress responded:
FYI Jaitlie ji aka Blog Mantri ji, Cambridge offers M Phil straight from undergrad. What nobody offers is a degree in “Entire political science” 😉
On Rafale, could you tell us on whose behest the French gov waived off taxes worth 143 mil Euro for Anil Ambani? #ChowkidarChorHai
– Congress (@INCIndia) April 13, 2019
“A new serial is coming, ‘Kyunki Mantri Bhi Kabhi Graduate Thi‘,” Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi said at a press conference.
#WATCH Congress’ Priyanka Chaturdevi: A new serial is going to come, ‘Kyunki Mantri Bhi Kabhi Graduate Thi’; Its opening line will be ‘Qualifications ke bhi roop badalte hain, naye-naye sanche mein dhalte hain, ek degree aati hai, ek degree jaati hai, bante affidavit naye hain. pic.twitter.com/o8My3RX9JR
– ANI (@ANI) April 12, 2019
The Congress leader was reacting to the Ms Irani’s poll affidavit submitted to the Election Commission for the ongoing national elections. In her affidavit, she had mentioned her three-year degree course was “not completed”. Ms Irani is up against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, which goes to polls on May 6.
In the category of Highest Educational Qualification, the affidavit said “Bachelor of Commerce Part-1” from the School of Open Learning (Correspondence) University of Delhi. “Three year degree course not completed,” is written in brackets.
Ms Irani made the same declaration in her 2017 affidavit to the Rajya Sabha, where she is a member.
But in the 2014 election, when the Union Minister contested against Rahul Gandhi for the first time in Amethi, she had only said: “Bachelor of Commerce Part-1, School of Open Learning (Correspondence) University of Delhi, 1994”.
In 2004, when she contested from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk against Congress leader Kapil Sibal, her affidavit only said B.A. or Bachelor of Arts, 1996, Delhi University (School of Correspondence).
Smriti Irani has been accused often by the Congress and other opposition parties of providing contradictory information on her education.
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