New Delhi: Senior BJP leader Uma Bharti today came to the defence of Smriti Irani, her young colleague in the newly-appointed Cabinet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, by turning the guns on the Congress in the row over Ms Irani's educational qualification. (Smriti Irani 'Not Even Graduate!': Maken Sparks Row)
Reacting to a tweet by senior Congress leader Ajay Maken, ridiculing Mr Modi's cabinet and Ms Irani, the Human Resources Development Minister, Ms Bharti shot back, "I want to ask Madam Sonia Gandhi, what is her qualification?" (Narendra Modi's Council of Ministers)
The fiery BJP leader, who is in charge of Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation, added, "Because she was heading the UPA government, she was giving directions to the government. I want to see her certificate, see how qualified she is. Then the Congress people have the right to ask about the qualifications of Smriti Irani."
Mr Maken had tweeted yesterday "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 (sic)!"
Mr Maken's comment had triggered outrage across Twitter, with many calling his stance 'sexist' and 'elitist'.
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, whose National Conference is an ally of the Congress, had criticised Mr Maken's comment, tweeting, "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 (sic),".
An apparently abashed Congress also addressed the row today; with senior party leader Manish Tewari saying, "When we criticise the government, it should be on substance not superficiality".
Incidentally, Ms Bharti, who had won the Lok Sabha elections from Jhansi, had openly stated that she also wanted to contest against Mrs Gandhi in Raebareli, but was dissuaded by the party from doing so. (Also Read: Don't compare me to Priyanka, Rakhi Sawant tells Uma)