11:37 pm - Monday November 16, 2015

‘Judge Me By My Work': Smriti Irani’s First Response To Controversy Over Her Education

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New Delhi – Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani has sought to settle the controversy over her educational qualifications by requesting her critics to ” judge me by my work.”

Ms Irani said on Thursday morning, “Extraneous circumstances have been created to divert my mind from the work I have been assigned to do. I will humbly request all of you to judge me by my work.”

She also said, “I have been judged by my organization for my capacity to deliver.” At 38, the popular TV actor turned politician is the youngest member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet.

The BJP leader has been attacked by the rival Congress first over what its general secretary Ajay Maken called a lack of qualification to head the education ministry, and then over alleged discrepancies in her election affidavits.

“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 (sic)!” Mr Maken had tweeted on Tuesday as Ms Irani took charge of her ministry.

The BJP shot back in kind. Union Minister Uma Bharti launched a stout defense of her young colleague by attacking Congress president Sonia Gandhi. “I want to ask Madam Sonia Gandhi, what is her qualification…Because she was heading the UPA government, she was giving directions to the government. I want to see her certificate, see how qualified she is. Then the Congress people have the right to ask about the qualifications of Smriti Irani,” the fiery Ms Bharti said.

Mr Maken’s comment triggered outrage across Twitter, with many calling his stance “sexist” and “elitist”. His own party advised him to attack the new government only on “substantive policy issues.”

And Congress ally Omar Abdullah, who is the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, tweeted, “To say that someone needs to be educated to be HRD Min is like saying one needs to be a pilot for Civil Aviation or a miner for Coal Min (sic).”

Ms Irani contested the general election against Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and put up a spirited fight, reducing his margin of victory substantially in Amethi, considered one of the safest seats on the country for the Congress.

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