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AAP’s ‘uneducated PM’ jibe: What the party plans to gain

According to senior AAP leaders, the idea is to draw people’s attention to the BJP’s and PM Narendra Modi’s reluctance to talk about or share any proof of his educational qualifications.

Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi Chief Minister, Delhi CM, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, AAP, Gujarat High Court. Jantar Mantar, Delhi AssemblyPrime Minister Narendra Modi (PTI, file)
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AAP’s ‘uneducated PM’ jibe: What the party plans to gain
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“Illiterate… less educated” is how Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alluded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet on Friday, minutes after he was fined Rs 25,000 for an RTI plea on the PM’s degrees, by the Gujarat High Court.

The Delhi CM’s speech at Jantar Mantar, his address at the Delhi Assembly and a poster campaign — a year before the country goes to polls — have made it clear that PM Modi’s educational qualifications will be among its primary poll planks in the Lok Sabha polls.

In response to the verdict, Kejriwal tweeted on Friday, “Doesn’t the country even have the right to know how educated their PM is? They were opposed to showing his degree in court. Why? Those who demand to see his degree will be fined? What is happening? An illiterate or less educated PM is very dangerous for the country.”

According to senior party leaders, the idea is to punch above its weight and draw people’s attention to the BJP’s and PM Modi’s reluctance to talk about or share any proof of his educational qualifications.

“Why does the BJP not come forth and give us the details of his qualifications? Where are his (Modi’s) classmates and teachers? The problem is that there is a lack of clarity. Our party, on the other hand, is headed by an IITian who later became an IRS officer. We have other highly-educated people in the party and we believe that people with these qualifications and experiences provide better and viable solutions to problems. BJP, on the other hand, has a person at its helm whose educational qualifications are unknown. We will intensify this line of attack as people have the right to know who is leading them,” a senior party leader said.

Leaders in the BJP believe that this line of attack is a “self-goal” for AAP.

“The party strategy is also to allow these posters to become the foundation of an emotive attack on Kejriwal, portraying him as an elitist questioning a grassroots leader, that is the PM,” a BJP source said.

In a country where education is still inaccessible for lakhs of people due to a variety of socio-economic factors, will this line of attack alienate voters? The general consensus in AAP is that it won’t.

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“2014 aur ab ke beech, Ganga bahut aage beh gayee hai (a lot of water has flown under the bridge since 2014). The people have now seen the horrors of demonetisation, GST, farmers’ bills, the price rise. He talks about making tea using toxic fumes from drains as fuel. He says the Biharis defeated Alexander when he never even came to Bihar. He has made several nonsensical statements over the years. Today if we say that he talks like an uneducated man, it will be far more convincing,” another senior AAP leader said.

“If a person is illiterate or uneducated, they do not want to remain so. An illiterate man also wants his children to study and do better in life. They all understand the value of education,” he added.

At a press conference on Friday, AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh too sharpened the attack.

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“After Independence, everyone who became PM was educated; it is for the first time that an uneducated person has got this post. The entire country wants to see his (Modi’s) degree in entire political science. Why don’t the 140 crore people of this country have the right to know about the Prime Minister’s degree?” he said.

Speaking about the Gujarat High Court order fining Kejriwal, Singh said, “Arvind Kejriwal is not even a party in the case; how did the issue of a fine arise? Even if someone goes for a job as a clerk, their degree is sought; this is the Prime Minister we are talking about.”

This is not the first time that AAP has taken this line of attack. Before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the party was at the forefront of asking that proof of PM Modi’s educational qualifications be made public. A stinging loss in the polls, however, convinced senior party leaders that an attack on the PM by Kejriwal was hurting it.

It is after its win in the Punjab Assembly polls that Kejriwal started making political attacks on PM Modi again.

“Far from being an attack on someone’s literacy and education, our attack is about the PM’s hypocrisy and lies. If he had a degree, why does he not show it? All our Prime Ministers till now have been highly educated and no one had raised a question about their degrees. But here we have a situation where we ask for proof and are fined,” said a senior AAP leader.

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Over the past 10 years that it has been in existence, AAP has tried to find a varied vocabulary to attack PM Modi, in fits and starts.

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A senior AAP member said that the education plank is not going to be its only one. “Lots of issues are discussed in elections and that will be the case this time around also. But yes, this is also going to be one of those issues,” he said.

First published on: 01-04-2023 at 11:48 IST
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