The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday engaged in a war of words over the Opposition party president Rahul Gandhi’s educational credentials.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley claimed that Gandhi got an M.Phil “without a Masters degree”. His comments came after the Congress alleged that Union Minister Smriti Irani “falsified educational records” and demanded her resignation.
In a Facebook blog post, Jaitley claimed that the Opposition parties have “no real issue” for their campaigns and was relying on a “rent-a-cause” campaign. “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,” Jaitley wrote. “After all, he got an M.Phil without a Masters degree!”
The Congress countered Jaitley’s post with a tweet clarifying Gandhi’s qualifications. “For your information, Jaitlie ji aka Blog Mantri ji, Cambridge offers M Phil straight from undergrad,” the party said on Twitter. “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?”
In 2009, the Cambridge University has confirmed Gandhi’s status as a former student at Trinity College who was awarded an M.Phil in Development Studies in 1995, The Hindu had reported.
The attack over Irani’s credentials came after the BJP 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.
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.