Have Jaitley, Shah pushed Modi into Kejriwal's trap in degree row?

The BJP leaders should have realised that integrity is more important a criteria for becoming prime minister.

 |  4-minute read |   10-05-2016
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Arun Shourie was spot on when he told Karan Thapar on India Today TV that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's coterie of advisers say what Modi likes to hear. That Modi gets inputs from few people outside the coterie and depends on the coterie and nobody else.

In the fake certificates controversy, nobody but his close advisers, Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah by implication, have led Modi into a trap.

Also read - No sour grapes, Arun Shourie’s critique of Modi is political truth-telling

Had he advised from outside the coterie, he would have been told to ignore Arvind Kejriwal's broadsides on educational degree issue. He would have let the AAP leaders dig into universities' records and challenge Modi if they found his claim to qualifications untrue.

Also read - In Modi and Kejriwal's game of degrees, Indian voter's the biggest loser

But obviously, as Shourie said, a narcissistic person's obsessive self-love and insecurity arising of it won't let him seek inputs from outside the coterie.

So the government and the BJP's top-level functionaries jumped into it to hold a press conference displaying Modi's purported degrees for BA and MA. How much more comical the Modi government can get?

modi-story_647_05041_051016040302.jpg Clearly, the BJP leaders have mishandled the issue. (PTI) 

Jaitely and Shah together addressed the press as though the nation or the government was suddenly faced with a dire situation. The press corps in Delhi expected something of utmost national importance to be revealed by them. What they found there, in Shourie's words again, "digging mountain and find not a mouse but an invisible mouse".

The BJP bigwigs accused Kejriwal of having lowered the level of public discourse by spreading "lies" and committing the "sin of defaming the country". One would like to know from the top BJP guns what "sin" was committed and how the AAP defamed the country while they too are equal partners in the degree circus.

Also read - Why I am convinced Modi's degrees are fake

As for the AAP leaders, it's fun time for them. They have engaged their bête noire on a trivial issue and put huge moral pressure on Modi to come clean on the certificates matter.

Had the BJP leaders ignored Kejriwal's barbs, the controversy would have died down after running its course.

Now in this case Modi is damned if his certificates are found to be forged, as the AAP leaders have alleged, and he is damned even if the certificates are genuine. The AAP has won the propaganda war by having put Modi on the back foot.

Also read - Modi's degrees don't matter as long as they are genuine

Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have been pilloried in the past and have been accused of citing fake educational qualifications in election affidavits. BJP's newest star Dr Subramanian Swamy had alleged Sonia of having faked her degree of studying English in the University of Cambridge. He took the matter to the court also and claims that Sonia didn't study beyond Class 5.

Likewise, Rahul Gandhi's claim to have obtained an MPhil in developmental economics from Trinity College of the University of Cambridge was alleged to be untrue. The controversy was set at rest only after the Cambridge University vouchsafed for its degree.

Rahul Gandhi is still in the midst of a controversy surrounding his alleged British citizenship issue, which was also raised by Dr Subramanian Swamy.

Also read - Judge Swamy all you want, but India can't afford to ignore him

However, the Congress leaders treated the allegations against Sonia and Rahul's fake degree as peripheral issues. They did join the political slugfest but didn't raise the stakes as high as the BJP has done on the accusations against Modi.

After having raised the stakes so high, the BJP should have approached the university through established channels to produce Modi's certificates without delay.

The reluctance on part of the university to release the certificates after so many hullabaloos gives credence to the AAP's accusations and raises suspicions among minds of people too.

Clearly, the BJP leaders have mishandled the issue. Modi's advisers stand in dock for pushing the prime minister in the centre of a totally unavoidable controversy. And their action makes the prime minister himself stand in a dock.

Also read - 6 hilarious memes degree torture over PM Modi's degree row

They should have realised that degrees and certificates are not important criteria for becoming prime minister or for holding a political position. Transparency and integrity are.

From Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to Modi, no prime minister except Dr Manmohan Singh could boast of high education credentials. Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi did indeed have the privilege of studying at the prestigious Oxbridge universities in England but none of them shined there. Rajiv Gandhi flunked his examinations.

So education degrees are no big issue. But dishing lies in public and affidavits filed in the election commission office are serious issues and are punishable.

But will Mr Narcissus now realise how his advisers can lead him into traps laid by opposition parties? Or will he continue to listen to the coterie? To meet his nemesis!

Writer

Ashok K Singh Ashok K Singh @kashoksingh

He is a journalist, writer and commentator.

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