1 July 2015
It would appear that the clean image of Modi government is going to be under severe test. Not one but there are four signs to this effect. Two of Modi’s cabinet members and two other state ministers are under scruitiny.
Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani is facing court proceedings for allegedly misrepresenting facts in her affidavit to the election commission. This opens the way for the court to summon her and eventually face trial for submitting false educational qualifications in her affidavits. She attended a 5 day course at Yale University and she claimed to have received a degree from the university. She had provided conflicting affidavits of her educational qualifications. In 2004, she submitted that she had obtained a graduate degree in Arts from Delhi University (School of Correspondence); and in 2014, she submitted that she had completed a part of a graduate degree in Commerce from Delhi University. A leak from the School of Correspondence claims that Irani had enrolled in 2013, but had not written her examination.
Irani was formerly a model, television actress and producer. She holds the record of winning five consecutive Indian Television Academy Awards for Best Actress.
Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister in the Central Government and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje are embroiled in getting British travel documents to Lahit Modi. Modi, not related to the prime minister, was at that time under investigation for alleged violation of foreign exchange rules and tax evasion. His passport was revoked by the Indian authorities.
Sushma Swaraj claimed that she helped Modi to get travel documents on humanitarian grounds as he was visiting his wife who was being treated for cancer in Lisbon, Portugal. It should be noted that Sushma’s daughter was part of Modi’s legal team.
Ms Pankaja Munde, minister in Maharashtra state is accused of handing out government contracts worth around two billion rupees ($ 31.4 million) without following the required procedures.
Irani was dropped from the BJP’s national executive on Thursday along with minority affairs minister Najma Heptulla, as party president Amit Shah reconstituted the organisation’s top decision-making body ahead of a meeting next month.
AK Manan of the Bar Council of Delhi filed case against Irani. The court will now examine the evidence against her on 28 August 2015. It may also summon her. The stakes are high for Irani because she is a senior cabinet member and, ironically, the minister responsible for education in the country. If Irani had violated Representation of the People Act, she can get six months in jail, a fine, or both.
AK Manan also filed a case against AAP member and Delhi law minister Jitender Tomar for furnishing false educational affidavit and forging his degrees. Tomar had to quit after it was alleged that he had faked his qualifications. He is currently in jail. This led to a bitter battle between Aam Admi Party and the BJP.
BJP didn’t come out strongly against Arvind Kejriwal in the Jitender Tomar fake degree case. This may be because there was a time-bomb ticking for the BJP central government too.
In the past, the party has demanded the Delhi chief minister’s resignation on lesser issues. In April this year, the BJP had brought out hundreds of its supporters to protest outside Kejriwal’s house regarding a road rage incident. Police used water cannons to control the protestors.