The Congress on Friday called Union Minister Smriti Irani a “serial liar”, alleged that she had “falsified records” about her educational qualifications and indicated that she should step down from her post.
The attack over Irani’s credentials came after the Bharatiya Janata Party Rajya Sabha MP and Union Textiles Minister on Thursday disclosed in her nomination affidavit for the Amethi Lok Sabha seat that she had not completed her graduation degree. This was reportedly the first time that Irani admitted that she was not a graduate, after previously filing contradictory claims in affidavits for elections in 2004, 2011 and 2014.
The Congress on Friday released a statement by spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi which listed the purported claims that Irani had made over her educational background. By submitting contradictory affidavits to the Election Commission of India, the Union minister “is guilty of offence under Section 125A read with Section 33 of the Representation of Peoples Act, besides sections of the Indian Penal Code,” Chaturvedi said. Section 125A of the Act pertains to penalty for filing false affidavit while Section 33 is on the nomination and affidavit filing process.
“Union Minister Smriti Irani, who had been rubbishing Opposition’s claim that she is not a graduate, yesterday accepted that she enrolled for an undergraduate course in Delhi University but did not complete it,” Chaturvedi said. “We have no issue with the fact that Smriti Irani is not a graduate. The issue here is that she has lied repeatedly on oath and to the courts. People of India will see through these lies and give a befitting political reply to a ‘serial liar’!”
There has been no response yet from the BJP to Congress’s allegations, PTI said.
Chaturvedi also addressed a press conference at the Congress headquarters in New Delhi where she reiterated these allegations and also sang a sock mocking the Union minister, “Kyunki Mantri Bhi Kabhi Graduate Thi” (because the minister too was a graduate once), a riff on the title of the popular television series Kyunki Saans Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi that Irani starred in from 2000 to 2008.
In her fresh affidavit for Amethi, where she will fight the elections against Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Irani said that she had passed her secondary school examination in 1991 and senior secondary school examination in 1993. In the category of highest educational qualification, Irani’s form says “Bachelor of Commerce Part-1” from the School of Open Learning (Correspondence) University of Delhi, specifying that her three-year degree course was not completed.
In 2004, Irani’s nomination affidavit for the Chandni Chowk constituency claimed that she completed a Bachelors Degree in Arts in 1996 through correspondence. But in the 2014 election, Irani’s document mentioned Bachelor of Commerce Part-1, School of Open Learning (Correspondence) University of Delhi, 1994.
At an event in 2014, Irani had also claimed that she had a degree from Yale University. Irani said she was part of a group of 11 MPs that had gone to Yale for a crash course in 2013.