Modi gives Smriti big job, Cong takes a cheap shot

The Prime Minister has given her the portfolio (of HRD) on the basis of her capabilities, said Prasad.

By: Press Trust of India Written by Ravish Tiwari | New Delhi | Updated: May 28, 2014 3:00 am

In an indication of the rising stature of Smriti Irani within the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday allocated to her — the youngest in his Council of Ministers — the crucial portfolio of HRD.

Taking potshots at the move, Congress general secretary and head of its communication department Ajay Maken tweeted, “What a Cabinet of Modi? HRD Minister (looking after education) Smriti Irani is not even a graduate.” Maken cited the educational qualification as mentioned in Irani’s election affidavit.

In her affidavit, Irani has mentioned her education qualification as “Bachelor of Commerce Part-1, School of Open Learning (Correspondence), University of Delhi-1994”.

The BJP was quick to hit back. Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the comment was “most unfortunate”, adding, “The way Smriti speaks, both in Hindi and Cong takes a cheap shot at ‘non-graduate’ Smriti English… The Prime Minister has given her the portfolio (of HRD) on the basis of her capabilities.”

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, “To say that someone needs to be educated to be HRD Min(ister) is like saying one needs to be a pilot for Civil Aviation or a miner for Coal Min(ister).”

In a subsequent tweet, he clarified that by “educated”, he meant “highly qualified”. “That’s the problem with 140 letters — take “educated” in last tweet to mean “highly qualified” but I’m sure you get what I mean regardless,” Omar tweeted.

The high-profile portfolio — in the previous NDA government, it was held by M M Joshi — has pitchforked Irani ahead of the new crop of BJP leaders like Nirmala Sitharaman, Meenakshi Lekhi and Saroj Pandey. Though eyebrows have been raised over Modi’s decision on the grounds of her educational and political credentials, the fact that she comes without any baggage may hold her in good stead.

A party leader who did not wish to be named said, “No doubt, it will make her a front-ranking woman leader of the party.”
Irani was the BJP’s women’s wing chief during Nitin Gadkari’s tenure as BJP president till early last year, before being promoted as the party vice-president by Rajnath Singh last year.

Sitharaman, who has been made MoS (independent charge), has been an effective party spokesperson but Irani left her behind by being elected to Rajya Sabha in 2011. While Pandey replaced Irani as the BJP’s women’s wing chief, she lost the just concluded Lok Sabha elections. Irani too lost the elections but she put up a tough fight against Rahul Gandhi in. Lekhi won the elections from New Delhi, but lost in the ministerial race.

What may have proved an advantage for Irani is that even before she took the political plunge, she became a household name for her role in TV serial Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi that had a marathon run between 2000-08.

Roped in by the BJP in 2003, she showed an appetite for fighting big political battles. She contested against Congress leader Kapil Sibal from Chandni Chowk during the 2004 Lok Sabha elections but lost.

Irani has demonstrated her capability as an organiser in the past one year when she served as party in-charge of Goa. She held several booth-level workers’ meeting in Goa that culminated in what could be considered as one of the biggest political rallies in the state addressed by Modi early this year.

In 2004, she threatened to go on a fast over Modi’s alleged role in the 2002 riots. Her outbursts obviously appears to have been forgotten and was demonstrated publicly when Modi declared her as “chhoti behen” during an election rally in Amethi.

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  1. I
    Indus
    May 28, 2014 at 4:12 am
    What is the qualification of Sonia hi , Mr. Maken before whom you prostrate! What is the qualification of Rahul and Priyanka to become Prime Minister! don't joke Maken
    Reply
    1. M
      manohar sharma
      May 29, 2014 at 5:23 am
      It is very difficult to expect any thing better from Congress.They should keep at it and vanish in thin air
      Reply
      1. A
        Arvind
        Jun 3, 2014 at 5:31 pm
        Degrees are required by clerks not leaders.
        Reply
        1. A
          Arvind
          May 28, 2014 at 5:38 pm
          Its okay for bill gates to be the worlds best known college dropout but Smriti Irani needs a degree. Kapil Sibal had a degree of some kind, what did he do?
          Reply
          1. A
            Arvind
            Jun 3, 2014 at 5:30 pm
            She fought against first prince Rahul hi. The congress would not let the prince lose even if they have to resort to unfair practices
            Reply
            1. P
              Paramjeet
              May 28, 2014 at 5:54 am
              I am sure Smriti will do better than Kapil Sibal in HRD. By loading a donkey with books do not make him a scholar.
              Reply
              1. B
                Bansi Singh
                May 31, 2014 at 10:41 am
                Ban education.
                Reply
                1. B
                  Bansi Singh
                  May 31, 2014 at 10:44 am
                  Likho gey pado gey, bano gey kharabKhelo gey koodo gey banow gey Nawab (Minister)
                  Reply
                  1. B
                    Bansi Singh
                    May 31, 2014 at 10:39 am
                    Mr Modi has given hope to a dispirited country. Of a better future. Ms Irani has given greater hope. If any one aspires to rule a country, please do not seek education. A President of a political party need not have finished the equivalent of cl 12. A Vice President of a political party does not need an university degree. All young people who do not get into college, don't loose heart. You can be a PM or a HRD Minister. If you get a doctorate --- boy you had it. Your inability to talk 19 to the dozen will be a millstone around your neck. So. Don't study. Acchhey din aa e hain.
                    Reply
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                      Binu Varghese
                      Jun 3, 2014 at 4:05 am
                      Ha Ha Ha... what pontifications from people, quoting Bill Gate and all. Smriti Irani is not educationally qualified, education does not mean much for t hese people and politicians. Just accept that. What is the big fuss all about. Smriti is also a candidate who got defeated by over Lakhs of votes by the people of India.... Did it matter???
                      Reply
                      1. B
                        Binu Varghese
                        Jun 3, 2014 at 4:06 am
                        That comment is a shame. Kapil Sibal changed the Education landscape of the Country. Just look up CBSE courses..
                        Reply
                        1. B
                          Binu Varghese
                          Jun 3, 2014 at 4:08 am
                          This is an old game, a farce by blind BJP supporters. Neither Sonia, nor Rahul nor Priyanka , inspite of being more qualified than Smriti Irani, have ever been Ministers. Why bring them into tihs drama of a debate? WHat is the debate? The Education Minister is not a Graduate. No debate...
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                          1. F
                            FazalCA7
                            May 28, 2014 at 12:19 pm
                            People rejected her (election).. and now she become Minister ... :)
                            Reply
                            1. H
                              Harish
                              May 28, 2014 at 3:56 am
                              The issue was first raised by Madhu Kishwar, who till recently was considered close to BJP.
                              Reply
                              1. K
                                kris kumar
                                May 28, 2014 at 5:33 pm
                                May be Madhu Kishwar was expecting some kind of recognition in Modi government as she has been speaking in favour of Modi latley? Madhu outspoken outburst against Smiriti shows frustration of her success.
                                Reply
                                1. K
                                  kris kumar
                                  May 28, 2014 at 5:40 pm
                                  The billionaire Bill Gate never completed his degree. He was a drop out but a very successful innovator. Maken and Congress need to grow up and start talking cheap and must stop picking on Smiriti. Give her chance to perform. She is a good communicator and organiser and lot of experts to help her in the job.
                                  Reply
                                  1. R
                                    Rakesh
                                    May 27, 2014 at 9:37 pm
                                    Remember Ajay Maken, he is the same guy who was red faced and reverted back his comments instantaneously when Rahul hi tore the bill in his press conference. Graduate or no Graduate, what matters is atude. She must be 100 times better than Mr. Maken other congress leaders who despite having big qualifications could not do anything and always looked for directions from Mother son duo.
                                    Reply
                                    1. R
                                      Ravi Ranjan
                                      May 28, 2014 at 3:34 am
                                      Persons like Maken need to be reminded that Rabindranath Tagore did not go to a college but set up a university and won a Nobel prize for literature.And what was the qualification of Rajeev hi apart from being a trained aviator who proved to be one of the best PMs we have had so far? Also remember persons like K.Kamraj ,the leader and the administrator.Such comments are in poor taste.
                                      Reply
                                      1. S
                                        Shankar
                                        May 28, 2014 at 12:16 am
                                        Smt Indira hi did not complete her college education. (Wikipedia). Congressmen are not aware of this?
                                        Reply
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                                          Shashank
                                          May 28, 2014 at 11:43 am
                                          Not commenting on merits of Congress' argument. How impartial is it of the newspaper to comment the shot as "cheap"
                                          Reply
                                          1. S
                                            Sunny
                                            May 28, 2014 at 3:47 am
                                            It's a cheap shot indeed. Can someone from the congress party explain what degrees India hi or Sonia hi have? People who make comments like this are perpetual losers...not fit to be in any leadership positions.
                                            Reply
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