Under attack for allegedly forging his graduation marksheet, Union Minister of State for HRD Ram Shankar Katheria on Friday offered to resign if proved guilty even as Opposition parties stepped up their tirade against him.
Congress and BSP attacked him over the controversy while BJP defended him saying he is a victim of “political vendetta” and the matter dates back to the BSP government in Uttar Pradesh.
“I can say if it is proved that there is any forgery in my marksheet, not only will I resign from the post of minister but also as an MP,” he said.
A case was filed in 2010 against Katheria in Allahabad High Court by his rival BSP candidate charging him with forging his marksheet. The court has, however, referred the matter to the sessions court in Agra, which will hear it on November 26.
Congress mocked at and targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the row involving the minister saying the “master” does not seem to be in control.
Linking the issue to an earlier controversy about HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s educational qualifications, Congress spokesperson Salman Khurshid sarcastically said, “There is something called a talent pool and one picks people for a particular job, the best suited candidate is chosen. In this case, it seems those who have maximum human resources have been picked for the job.”
Asked if it amounted to a criminal offence, Khurshid said, “If he (Modi) listens to me, I should certainly demand but I have a sinking feeling that he will not listen.” He also demanded an answer from the Prime Minister on the issue.
Party general secretary Digvijay Singh tweeted, “First Minister HRD and now MOS HRD has given Fraud Mark Sheet! On top of it RSS wants to change the Text Books and Indian History”.
Another Congress leader Ajay Maken tweeted, “BJP-Gift to the Nation Education Min filed wrong Affidavit: MOS allegedly forged MarkSheet! Modi’s #Clean Politics?”.
BSP leader Sudhindra Bhadoria said, “Prime Minister is running a campaign on cleanliness. I urge him to run a cleanliness drive in his government as well. That will send the right message in the country. If there is dirt in the government and outside there is a cleanliness campaign then people will think it is a fake campaign.”
Defending Katheria, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, “All these cases are nothing but political vendetta. The case had been started by the BSP government. The BSP government could not find anything in the enquiry and as a result no FIR was filed.”
Congress leader Rashid Alvi said if any person has fake certificate, then it is a criminal offence.
But if HRD minister keeps a fake certificate, then what will happen to this country’s education, what will happen to the students who are studying various schools and universities, he asked.
“Perhaps the Prime Minister is making such people ministers and if this continues, then this system will collapse,” he said.
Katheria is at the centre of a controversy over an allegation that his graduation marksheet was forged.
“I was slapped with four cases every day by the (erstwhile) BSP government deliberately. They did not get any proof. I was cleared of all the charges even when BSP was in power,” he had said on Thursday, rejecting the allegation against him.