The brouhaha over Smriti Irani’s educational qualifications or lack thereof, is not quite humour, not quite farce. But it is in keeping with the vitriol that has marked the 2019 electoral campaign thus far.
A true child of today’s politics, Smriti Irani is the television-friendly apparatchik who knows how to deliver the perfect soundbite. The household name from yesteryear television serial Saas bhi kabhi bahu thi, she must know, however, that no stinging one-liner, no clever putdown can take away from the fact that she fudged her educational qualifications when she filed her nominations back in 2004. The nomination papers for Amethi in 2014, and again in 2019, now state she’s no graduate and did not complete her Bachelor of Commerce degree.
Controversy broke three years ago over whether it was appropriate for someone without a degree to head the HRD ministry after Ms Irani’s claims of a degree from Yale University proved to be hot air. Moved out, with nary an explanation, the fresh storm after Congress’ Priyanka Chaturvedi’s not unexpected, if unmusical, mockery underlines one thing — Ms Irani is a threat. She won one lakh votes in Rahul Gandhi’s backyard, Amethi, in the last polls and has sniped incessantly at the Congress party president for running away to safe seat Wayanad. Mr Gandhi’s own claims to a college degree from the US and his MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge, are, curiously, no longer an issue!
Either way, it’s not a matter of degree. Or, education. Our elected representatives reflect the diversity that is India. But they must remember that when they stand for office, they are open to public scrutiny. And, of course, in the current climate of hate, to ridicule and scorn!...