HRD minister Smriti Irani
HRD minister Smriti Irani (Photo: PIB)PIB

Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani has finally responded to the controversy surrounding her educational qualification raised by Congress party.

On Thursday – two days after a congress leader questioned her ability to head the Education ministry because of her qualification – she has asked her rivals to judge her by her work.

This comes as the controversy took a new turn on Wednesday, when it apppeared that she had varying accounts of her educational background declared in two of the affidavits filed in the past.

"Extraneous circumstances have been created to divert my mind from the work I have been assigned to do. I will humbly request all of you to judge me by my work," she told reporters Thursday morning.

"I have been judged by my organization for my capacity to deliver," the 38-year-old popular TV actor turned politician added.

She is the youngest member of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet.

The controversy first started after Congress' general secretary Ajay Maken pointed out via twitter that Irani lacked qualification to head the education ministry. The Congress then alleged that there were discrepancies in her election affidavits.

Contesting the elections 10 years ago from Chandni Chowk in the Capital, the young politician had claimed that she had a Bachelor of Arts degree. "B.A. 1996 Delhi University (School of Correspondence)," she had written in the column that seeks details about education and the year in which the stated course ended.

However, in the affidavit filed from Amethi in the 2014 elections, she had mentioned: "Bachelor of Commerce part-1, School of Open Learning (Correspondence), University of Delhi- 1994".

In 2012, the Supreme Court had ruled that false disclosures in an affidavit could be a ground for rejection of a candidate's nomination in an election.

While Irani declined to comment on the discrepancy,  Congress has now stepped up their attack, saying that it was a "misstatement, distortion and a criminal offence" that will have consequences.

"We don't know which is correct – 2004 or 2014. Both can't be true," party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.

As Irani took charge of her ministry, Maken had tweeted: "What a Cabinet of Modi? HRD Minister (Looking after Education) Smriti Irani is not even a graduate! Look at her affidavit at ECI site pg 11 (sic)!"

On Wednesday, Senior BJP leader Uma Bharti came to Irani's defence and hit back at Congress questioning Sonia Gandhi's educational qualifications instead.

"I want to ask Madam Sonia Gandhi, what is her qualification?" Bharti asked

Some leaders drew attention for all the wrong reasons on Day 1 of Modi's new government. While Maken stirred up a controversy with his tweet about the new HRD minister's qualifications, Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, sparked another one by stating that he personally favoured doing away with Article 370, which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir.