Smriti Irani’s dual ‘degrees’ corner BJP
In the affidavit filed by Irani before the Election Commission in 2004, she claims to have completed her BA in 1996 from Delhi University’s School of Correspondence. But in her affidavit filed with the Election Commission in 2014, the minister claimed that she completed part one, that is the first year of her Bachelor degree in Commerce in the year 1994 from Delhi University’s School of Open Learning.
After Congress leader Ajay Maken a day earlier had asked if Irani was adequately educated, on Wednesday party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, ‘We are not making any personal comments and that is not our objective at all. There are two issues. Today, the second issue is more important than the first. The first is a clear misstatement, distortion in her 2014 affidavit, which is unfortunately a serious criminal offence, it has electoral consequences.’
‘The misstatement is simple. In the 2004 affidavit, she has clearly claimed to be a B.A. graduate of 1996. In the 2014 affidavit, it is specified that she has only completed part one, that is the first year, of her bachelor degree in Commerce, and that is not a full degree. Both cannot be true, and that is the main issue, and not a personal issue,’ Singhvi told reporters. ‘The second issue we haven’t raised, and it is a distortion by the BJP about people having or not having educational qualifications,’ he added.
Interestingly, the first voice of dissent on Irani’s appointment was raised by right-wing intellectual and Modi supporter Madhu Kishwar. The professor from Centre for Studies in Developing Societies (CSDS) had on Tuesday written on micro-blogging site twitter, ‘Smriti Irani merely class 12 pass. Went to bcm fashion model on to tv serial bahu. Is this qualification enf 4 India’s Education Minister?’ In another tweet she said, ‘Irani claims to b BCom part 1 from correspondence school. No such degree exists. Means just took admission & left. Misrepresention in affidavit.’
Despite the BJP defending Irani, on Wednesday, Kishwar stuck to her stand and in a series of tweets said, ‘Smriti Irani defenders please note: My sentiments echoed with great fervor within BJP circles. BJP insiders saying much harsher things than me.’