Smriti Irani degree row: ABP News anchor defends minister with falsehood

The controversy surrounding Union textiles minister Smriti Irani’s educational qualification had recently snowballed after Irani, in her affidavit before the Election Commission ahead of the ongoing Lok Sabha polls, had declared that she is not a graduate. This was contradictory to her earlier poll affidavits of 2014 and 2004.

In a debate broadcast by ABP News from Darbhanga in Bihar, the question of Smriti Irani’s degree once again come to the fore, when one person from the audience raised a question over her questionable educational qualifications. In response, the ABP News anchor moderating the debate said that Irani has a Master of Arts (MA) degree. The relevant portion of the discussion can be seen at 38:16 minutes in the video posted below.

In the video above, the person in the audience poses a question to the BJP representative,

“Mera kehna hai ki yeh jo poochh rahe hain ki aapke neta 9va pass hai, main poochhta hoon inhi ke party ke mantri they, Smriti Irani, unse poochhiye unki degree kya hai (What I want to say is, they are asking that your leader has studied till 9th grade, I ask them, their own minister Smriti Irani, ask her what her degree is- translation).”

To this, the ABP News anchor Rubika Liyaquat promptly responds, saying,

“MA kiya hai sir correspondence se, MA kiya hua hai, MA kiya hua hai (She has done MA through correspondence, she has done MA, she has done MA- translation).” She then quickly moves on to another person in the audience. When this person too starts commenting on Smriti Irani’s educational qualification, Liyaquat says, “Woh ab shiksha mantri nahi hai” (She is no longer the education minister- translation). 

It may be noted that the question was addressed to the BJP spokesperson, but the onus of responding to criticism of Smriti Irani somehow fell on ABP News and its anchor, who defended Mrs. Irani by asserting not once, not twice but thrice that she has a MA degree.

Smriti Irani’s poll affidavit says otherwise

According to the affidavit filed by Smriti Irani ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election, Mrs. Irani is not a graduate. She had enrolled for a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) course through open learning at the University of Delhi in 1994. However, she had not completed it.

This latest affidavit contradicts the information Mrs. Irani had provided in her earlier affidavit ahead of the 2014 general election, where she did not explicitly mention that she had not completed her degree course.

There is enough information already available in the public domain to suggest that Mrs. Irani’s claims about her educational qualification were at best dubious. Moreover, the same has been vindicated by her contradictory assertions in multiple affidavits. Despite this, the ABP News anchor resorted to falsehood about Mrs. Irani’s degree.

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