New Delhi: The controversy over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s educational qualifications refuses to die. Launching a scathing attack on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that has been accusing Modi of lying about his education, BJP president Amit Shah and finance minister Arun Jaitley sought to put an end to the debate by releasing Modi’s undergraduate and post-graduate degrees at a press conference on Monday.
The degrees show that Modi completed his BA from Delhi University in 1978 with a third division and finished his M.A in ‘entire political science’ with a first division in 1983. Modi’s election affidavits also reference the same details.
Alleging that AAP has stooped low to cast unnecessary aspersions on the prime minister, Jaitley told the media, “It is public discourse at its lowest ever. This (accusing the PM) from a political party whose leaders are being prosecuted and investigated for fake degrees.”
Holding copies of Modi’s degrees aloft, Shah said, “Arvind Kejriwal has been spreading lies about the prime minister. He has tried to defame the PM. He should apologise not only to the PM but the entire nation.”
However, soon after the release of the PM’s degrees, the AAP held a press conference to suggest the degrees could be fake and accused the BJP of misleading the nation.
It claimed that details in Modi’s mark sheet and the degree did not match, pointing to some kind of forgery. While showing the documents, AAP leader Ashutosh made two points. First, the awardee’s names are different in the mark sheet and the degree. In the mark sheet, the awardee’s name is mentioned as ‘Narendra Kumar Damodar Das Mody’ while the degree says ‘Narendra Damoderdas Modi.’ Ashutosh said that the names can be changed only with an affidavit and demanded that the BJP produce the affidavit. Second, Ashutosh said that the final year mark sheet was awarded in 1977 while the degree says he passed out of DU in 1978. “How is it possible to pass out in different years?” asked Ashutosh.
“Amit Shah, Arun Jaitley tried a lot but were caught red-handed,” added Ashutosh.
Responding to these allegations, the BJP released two of Modi’s mark sheets. The first one shows that Modi, who had enrolled in the DU’s correspondence programme in 1974, failed his final year exams in 1977. AAP showed this mark sheet to the media while making the allegations. However, the second mark sheet released by the BJP shows that Modi took the exams again in 1978 in which he passed with a third division.
On social media, an apparent discrepancy in the mark sheet has been widely commented upon. The misaligned numbers which appear in the row next to ‘Part I-Marks’ do not add up to the total of 165 given at the end of the row. If these numbers are not marks but some internal university code, why has the breakdown of marks which add up to 165 not been provided?
Meanwhile, in an article on NDTV.com, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar has noted what he says are other discrepancies in Modi’s MA degree from Gujarat University:
“There needs to be some credibility, some authenticity to show that the present Vice Chancellor of Gujarat University is, indeed, right in producing a copy of Modi’s MA degree from that university in 1983, and announcing the marks that Modi obtained in the four papers for which he is said to have appeared in his MA Part – 2 exams, namely: Political Science – 64; European and Social Political Thought – 62; Modern India/Political analysis – 69; and Political Psychology – 67. Very impressive. Taken together – a clear first class.
But along comes Prof. Jayati Patel who says he was on the faculty of the Department of Political Science at Gujarat University for 24 long years – from 1969 to 1993. Within that window of nearly a quarter century fall the crucial years that Modi was doing his MA, Parts – 1 and – 2. It seems from Prof. Jayanti Patel’s post on his Facebook Wall that he was one of Modi’s teachers. But although Modi was a student in the “regular” category, his attendance was so irregular that “his presence was not sufficient in my class to grant his term and I have never condoned it.”
Given the AAP’s aggressive political posturing vis-à-vis this controversy, the inconsistencies in Modi’s transcripts are likely to fuel further speculation. Consequently, it looks like Modi’s degree row may not settle as easily as the BJP may have thought.
Note: This story has been edited to add details from Mani Shakar Aiyar’s observations
Note: This story has been edited to clarify the nature of discrepancy concerning Modi’s Part-1 marks.