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Smriti vs Rahul: Mystery remains who informed minister about teen hawker

bhopal Updated: Apr 15, 2016 16:34 IST
Shruti Tomar
Shruti Tomar
Hindustan Times
Smriti Irani

Kaushal, seen here with his mother, says neither he nor his family has talked to anyone about his studies.(Mujeeb Faruqui / HT photo)

A day after the story broke of a teenage newspaper vendor in Bhopal and how Smriti Irani and Rahul Gandhi are in a game of one-upmanship over his education, a new mystery has emerged — who informed Irani of the boy’s plight?

Gandhi had met Kaushal Shakya, 13, three years ago and a month later, the Congress announced that the party would set aside Rs 1,000 per month for the boy’s education. However, after some time the money allegedly stopped coming in and the boy was forced to drop out of school. And in what is being seen as a move to trump Gandhi, Irani stepped in and offered financial support so that the boy could resume his studies.

Boy says neither he nor his family has talked to anyone about his studies

Kaushal told Hindustan Times on Thursday that neither he nor his parents talked to anybody for the continuation of his studies.

“Three years ago, when I gave a copy of a newspaper to Rahul Gandhi, I told him I wanted to be a doctor. Congressmen helped me in taking admission in a private school and also gave a job to my elder brother but later the financial support stopped coming to me,” he said.

“Now, I work at a garment shop and have forgotten about my dreams. But the minister’s order has revived my dream. I really have no idea as to who told the minister about me,” he said.

I don’t know who moved boy’s application to the HRD ministry, says principal

Even central school no. 1 principal Saurabh Jaitely, who received the letter from the HRD ministry to grant admission to Kaushal, does not know who recommended his name. “Generally, the student’s parents and family members make efforts to get admission under special dispensation scheme but in Kaushal’s case, I don’t know who moved his application to the HRD ministry. We just received a letter from the ministry and will initiate the process,” he said.

However, the principal of Kaushal’s previous school, Brijesh Makoriya, has muddied waters further, alleging the boy’s father wanted him to discontinue his studies.

“After the discontinuation of funds from the Congress, we sent a letter to Kaushal’s father Dulichand to send his son to the school but he refused. Dulichand was not in favour of the continuation of his son’s studies.”

Irani couldn’t be contacted despite repeated efforts over the phone. There is no response to an e-mail sent either.

Advantage BJP as Cong caught napping

The battle over young Kaushal Shakya’s education has seemingly caught the state Congress napping.

Since Kaushal discontinued his studies 6-7 months after attending Dr Radhakrishnan School, none of the Congress leaders apparently chose to check with the family if the boy was going to any school. Now, Irani’s decision to grant admission to the boy in a central school has created a flutter in the party.

“This is just a case of miscommunication. None of the members of the boy’s family ever intimated us about the discontinuation of his studies. The Congress not only supported the boy but his family too, as his brother was given a job... His brother is still working. Hence, there is no question of the Congress withdrawing its support,” state Congress chief spokesperson KK Mishra told Hindustan Times.

Mishra said Irani’s decision was nothing but cheap politics intending to harm Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s image.

Congress leader Syed Sajid Ali said Kaushal himself withdrew from the school, saying Dr Radhakrishnan School was too far away from his house. Ali also said the boy later took admission in another institute near his locality.

State Congress president Arun Yadav is likely to visit the boy’s house in the next couple of days.