The government on Tuesday described as "unfortunate" the Congress swipe over human resource development minister Smriti Irani's educational qualification and said the opposition should focus on its own affairs.
Briefing media after the first cabinet meeting of the new government, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad contended that Irani, an actor-turned-politician, had been given the portfolio by Modi on the basis of her "capabilities".
"The way Smriti speaks, both in Hindi and English... The Prime Minister has given her the portfolio (of HRD) on the basis of her capabilities," said Prasad, who also holds the portfolio of telecommunication and IT.
The issue of Smriti Irani's educational qualifications was raked up by Congress leader Ajay Maken.
"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," he tweeted, wondering how could someone who has not even clearly mentioned her educational qualification be made in charge of HRD.
In her affidavit submitted to the Election Commission, Irani has stated her last education as "Bachelor of Commerce Part-1, School of Open Learning (Correspondence), University of Delhi-1994".
Irani's biodata at the Rajya Sabha website states "Educated at Holy Child Auxilium, Delhi and School of Correspondence and Continuing Education, University of Delhi, Delhi."
To the Congress' embarrassment, ally National Conference leader and Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, "To say that someone needs to be educated to be HRD Min is like saying one needs to be a pilot for Civil Aviation or a miner for Coal Min."