The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made public on Monday what it said were Narendra Modi’s university degree certificates, seeking to blunt opposition allegations that the prime minister had fabricated his education qualifications.
The party deputed its top leaders – Amit Shah and finance minister Arun Jaitley -- to defend Modi’s qualifications that became a subject of intense speculation after Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed the prime minister had faked them.
“I am very ashamed that such a day would come that I’ll have to make public the PM’s degrees,” Shah said, holding aloft what he said were Modi’s degrees, a Bachelor of Arts from Delhi University and a Master of Arts in Political Science from Gujarat University.
“Before making such baseless allegations about someone’s personal life, one should have verified the facts.”
Shah accused Kejriwal of lowering the level of public discourse in the country and sought an apology from him.
But within an hour of the BJP’s press conference, Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said Modi’s certificates were forged, citing what it said were “glaring discrepancies” in various details on the documents.
“Nakal ke liye bhi akal ki jarurat hai (One needs brains even to copy),” AAP leader Ashutosh said.
“His name in the BA mark sheet is Narendra Kumar Damodardas Modi while in the master’s degree it is Narendra Damoderdas Modi,”
Later, Kejriwal also tweeted that Modi’s BA degree was a “fake” that belonged to a person of the same name from Alwar, Rajasthan.
The documents released by the BJP showed Modi cleared the BA exam in the third division in 1978 as an external student, obtaining 489 marks out of 1200. He cleared English, Hindi and history on multiple attempts, taking an extra year to complete the three-year course.
The row over Modi’s certificate is the latest in a series of showdowns between Kejriwal and the BJP, a rivalry that has often played out bitterly between their supporters on social media. On Monday, Twitter lit up over the controversy, with many users sympathetic to Modi trending #kejriwalsaysorry.
The BJP says the attack over Modi’s education is part of a smear campaign by political rivals unhappy with his rise from a tea seller at a railway station to become the country’s prime minister.
Jaitley said Modi completed his studies in difficult circumstances, travelling from Gujarat to New Delhi to appear for his BA examination. He stayed at the ABVP office in the city during those days, he said.
“Those who claim to be common man should at least praise him. ‘Isse bada aam admi ka koi aur udahran nahi ho sakta.’ (There can be no greater example of a common man),” Jaitley said.
He said such an allegation had come from a party whose “several legislators are being prosecuted for disclosing fake degrees.”
Delhi University vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi refused to comment on whether Modi’s degree certificates were genuine.
“As far as sealing of records is concerned I have not issued any such orders and if the university department dealing with RTIs has done in its own capacity, I am not updated about it,” Tyagi told PTI.
The Congress reacted to the documents released by the BJP, saying they raised new questions about the prime minister’s qualifications.
“Modi’s duplicate degree certificate for his MA states that he passed with ‘entire Political Science’,” party chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.
“The final mark sheet, which states Modi passed his exam, is dated 17th Feb 1979. But, his degree certificate is dated 1978.
“In India, there is no educational qualification that is required for the PM but these questions now can lead to other doubts about the PM.”