Updated: June 25, 2015 9:54:00 am
Both the Congress and the CPM demanded the resignation of Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday, after a Delhi court agreed to examine a complaint alleging she misrepresented her educational qualification in her affidavits to the Election Commission.
Stepping up its attack against Irani, the Congress said in case the minister didn’t tender her resignation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi should remove her from the Union cabinet.
The development comes at a time when the party is struggling to maintain the political momentum on the Lalit Modi controversy, as other opposition parties, barring the Left, have not been vocal on the issue. The Congress plans to intensify pressure on the BJP-led central government during Parliament’s forthcoming Monsoon Session, expected to start on July 21, but it has to keep the issue alive till then.
Senior Congress leader Ajay Maken on Wednesday claimed that Irani’s continuation as the HRD minister could influence the probe.
The court examining the complaint could ask the Delhi University’s registrar to state the facts regarding Irani’s educational qualifications, said Maken.
“If she remains the education minister, will it not create a conflict of interest? Will she not be able to influence the probe since the Delhi University is under the jurisdiction of her ministry? How can one hope that the truth will come out in that case…How can one hope to get justice,” Maken asked.
He said the minister should resign immediately and if she did not do so, the Prime Minister should sack her.
Randeep Surjewala of the Congress said that it has become “apparent that the HRD Minister is lying about her own education”. “What will happen to the future of millions of children in the country,” he asked. Surjewala claimed that Irani had no “moral, constitutional or legal right to continue in her post even for a day”. “How does the Modi government propose to run the education ministry when degrees of the education minister are being questioned? Naturally, under any investigation, the DU comes under the HRD ministry. She will, as the education minister, definitely influence the conduct and course of the investigation,” Surjewala said.
The CPM also joined the clamour for Irani’s resignation, saying she had “lied” to the Election Commission and she had to come clean on the issue.
“The court saying the complaint against Smriti Irani is maintainable is a serious charge. The HRD minister has to come clean on the issue, which she has not. She told a lie before the Election Commission. You expect a member of the Union cabinet to be honest,” said CPM Poliburo member Brinda Karat.
The Left party also pointed out that Irani should be held to the same standards as former Delhi law minister Jitender Singh Tomar, who was arrested for allegedly submitting fake educational degrees. “The BJP must apply the same standards it did to Tomar, for her (Irani) too. The charges belong to a similar category. There should be no double standards and the HRD minister should herself resign,” Karat said.
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