New Delhi: Union minister Smriti Irani's educational qualifications, which had stirred a controversy five years ago, has taken a new turn this election season. Irani, who had been rubbishing Opposition's claim that she is not a graduate, accepted on Thursday that she enrolled for an undergraduate course in Delhi University but did not complete it.
In her poll affidavit, Irani revealed that she undertook her exams for Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com) first year from Delhi University's School of Open Learning, but "did not complete the three-year degree course".
The latest revelation could provide fodder for fresh controversy as the Opposition had been raising the issue ever since it emerged that Irani had made contradictory declarations when she contested the parliamentary elections in 2004 and 2014.
As a candidate in 2004 elections from Chandni Chowk in Delhi, Irani had declared that she had a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. "BA 1996 Delhi University (School of Correspondence)", she had written in the column which seeks details of university education and the year in which the course was completed.
In the same column of the affidavit filed in the 2014 elections from Amethi, the Union minister had said, "Bachelor of Commerce Part-1, School of Open Learning (Correspondence), University of Delhi-1994" after clearing Class XII in 1993. However, in the latest affidavit, she has specifically mentioned that she did not complete the three-year course.
Irani had also said at a media event in August 2014 that she has a degree from the prestigious Yale University in the US. Congress had then asked her why did she not mention this in her poll affidavit.
Additionally, a case was filed against the textiles minister in Delhi High Court alleging that she misrepresented her education qualifications.
Many top leaders, however, came out in Irani's support at the time of the controversy. Among them was former Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah, who had 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."