Congress leaders, who joined the controversy raising questions about HRD minister Smriti Irani's educational qualifications went on a back foot as soon as BJP asked questions about Sonia Gandhi's education
The controversy over the educational qualification of Smriti Irani, the new minister for human resources development (HRD) snowballed on Wednesday with some leaders and minsters from ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hitting back with carping comments on Sonia Gandhi even as Congress appeared to be divided.
Women rights activist Madhu Kishwar, who started it all with her tweets critical of Narendra Modi making Irani the HRD Minister, was unsparing saying education and research in India was in a shambles and something urgent was needed to be done to lift standards in the system.
Somebody with a vision was needed for the job, said Kishwar, a self-confessed admirer of Modi.
Kishwar said that as someone in the academia she felt that the HRD ministry was a very “vital” ministry and that India’s education sector was in a mess and somebody with a vision was needed.
The HRD ministry requires handling chief ministers, because education is a state subject and also requires handling vice chancellors, she said.
“HRD needs a head who can steer dexterously between Left and Right extremists in academia to define sensible course unfettered by partisan agendas,” she had said on Twitter.
Slamming the Congress, union minister Uma Bharti questioned the educational qualification of its party president Sonia Gandhi.
“I want to ask them (Congress) what are the educational qualifications of Sonia Gandhi, because she has headed the UPA and gave directions to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The entire UPA government would stand with folded hands outside her door. So Sonia Gandhi, who ran the UPA government, what are her qualifications,” Bharti asked.
Another minister Santosh Gangwar said he wants to ask Congress how educated was its president Sonia Gandhi.
Joining issues, BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Congress leaders should shed their “arrogance” after the party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha polls and do introspection.
He said the party was defeated in elections due to the “arrogance” of Congress leaders but they are still not ready to leave their arrogance.
“Congress leaders should now stop using abusive words against BJP leaders. Congress should respect the mandate of the people,” he said.
Congress leader Ajay Maken Tuesday took a jibe at Irani’s educational qualification.
“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,” he had tweeted.
Irani also got support from JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav who attacked Congress for raking up the issue while the minister herself refused to comment on the row.
Bharti also said Congress had raised questions about her candidature from Jhansi in the past by saying that she belonged to Madhya Pradesh and was making a similar mistake in this case.
“First the Congress should show certificates of Sonia Gandhi to show how educated she is and from where. Only then they can ask such questions (about Irani),” Bharati said.
She said that it was not necessary that a health minister should be a doctor but what matters is how a person works.
“Sonia Gandhi should tell about her certificates or else stop Congress from making such comments,” she demanded.
However, senior Congress leader Manish Tewari had a different take on the issue when he said any attack on the Government should be on substance and not superficials.
He said that these kinds of remarks used to emanate from the BJP in the early 2000s but had got decisively buried after UPA’s two successive victories under her leadership.
“If anybody is attempting to question the political sagacity of Sonia Gandhi, I think possibly they are blowing a trumpet which nobody is interested in,” Tewari said.
However, to a question on the Irani controversy, Tewari felt that criticism of the Government should be policy based rather than personality centric.