- Prime Minister Narendra Modi finds himself embroiled in a controversy over his educational qualifications
- AAP claims his BA and MA degrees aren\'t genuine
- Modi has remained silent on the issue, rather than addressing questions over his own integrity
- Instead, Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah have been fighting his battles for him
- The unanswered questions in the case
- How the case of AAP\'s Jitender Tomar may haunt Modi
Before delving further into the topic, it is important to underline that educational qualifications are not necessarily the paramount criterion for judging a Prime Minister's competence.
History bears witness that the highly-qualified ones haven't essentially contributed to the country's well-being, nor is there any proof to show either that the less-educated ones have a lower understanding of human values, constitutional norms and public interest.
People had not chosen Modi for his academic record. It was not a consideration even for those who opposed him. His ascension to power was clearly based on other factors.
What is more important is a Prime Minister's vision and his actions. The persons sitting at the helm of country's affairs should not be evaluated with any other yardstick.
However, in the same context, the minimum educational qualifications set by some BJP-ruled states for local body elections are contrary to the spirit of our Constitution. The decision has deprived a large segment of the downtrodden classes, like Dalits, minorities and women, from contesting the elections.
Therefore, I am more concerned about the innovative capabilities and track record of the Prime Minister than his educational degrees. It is sad that the most powerful person in the country is hitting the headlines over the veracity of his academic credentials. Transparency seems to be eluding the man holding the most important office in world's largest democracy.
Lack of statesmanship
Ideally, the Prime Minister should have come clean at the first hint of this controversy, by putting all the relevant documents on record.
In the true spirit of statesmanship, he could have said : "I have studied at these institutions and here are the documents to prove my claim. You are free to verify them. But, it is also true that the people of the country have taught me much more than any other college or university. This nation is my biggest gurukul."
But, alas, transparency and maturity are missing from the current defence of the Prime Minister.
One has never heard of such mudslinging involving the country's top post. PMs in the past have never attempted to hide their past. We have never witnessed mysterious silences adding fuel to the controversies, or different affidavits aggravating the confusion.
One fails to understand why Modi has done the same in this case. Isn't he the same person who has vowed to uphold transparency in governance? What is stopping him from clearing the air?
People were surely not transgressing their limits by questioning him. He is answerable to the nation. Revealing the truth is only going to add to his stature and silence the critics.
BJP president Amit Shah and his cohorts have responded by alleging that Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party are insulting the Prime Minister. Perhaps they don't realise that Modi has himself compounded the situation through keeping mum.
Has Modi really erred in this matter?
Is the information furnished by him in election affidavits irrelevant?
Was it a deliberate omission of facts or an inadvertent mistake?
Is he fearing a jail term or disqualification from the Lok Sabha in the face of the imbroglio?
Does he not understand how this controversy is hurting his image in India and abroad?
Or is he indifferent to becoming a subject of public jokes?
What is forcing him to follow his predecessor's path of adopting complete silence?
Why should a person who believes in 'mann ki baat' shy away from 'sach ki baat' in this regard?
I hope the Prime Minister is not lying. He should clarify the matter through a public statement. Two documents on part of the Opposition to malign Modi should be answered with four from his side.
This will only show that he is confident and certainly on the right side of the truth. Instead of placing Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah on the frontline, he should take charge and counter the Opposition.
Shah is justified in defending the Prime Minister as BJP's national president. But why is Modi shying away from taking the bull by its horns, especially when it is a direct attack on his integrity?
People who live in glass houses...
Ironically, while the BJP has staked its reputation on the issue, other parties are also busy reaping political brownie points. Many leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party have faced similar allegations in the past.
Jitender Tomar, one of its ministers, had to go to jail and lose his post, as well as party membership for similar charges. The party neither seems inclined towards cleaning its own house or taking some concrete action to substantiate its charges.
The AAP has claimed it has enough evidence to prove that the Prime Minister's degree is fake. But, it has not called the bluff by taking a legal route. It is also reluctant to seek the Election Commission's intervention. Instead of resorting to theatrics, Kejriwal's party must make efforts to take the matter to its logical conclusion.
But, on the other hand, why should Modi not go Tomar's way, if he is guilty? Why not seek redressal from the judiciary, if this is the case?
Judicial recourse seems to be the most logical way to resolve the controversy for both the parties. All other parties are also more happy raking up the controversy than taking a legal initiative. Sadly, even the Prime Minister is deepening the mystery instead of solving it once for all.
As the famous saying goes, when truth is replaced by silence, it becomes a lie.
The Prime Minister's silence is only raising doubts over him. He has been criticised for not speaking on important issues like drought, famine and atrocities on Dalits.
But, this is a matter of his own reputation, and yet, all we have heard from him is a deafening silence.
The country's Prime Minister was never so weak. He is himself responsible for the loss of his prestige until he breaks his silence.
The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the organisation.
Translated by Deepak Sharma
Edited by Shreyas Sharma