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EC must act against false affidavit claims

Actor Smriti Irani is at the centre of a controversy over dubious claims made in her affidavit with regards to her educational qualifications. Reports have cited that first Smriti stated her qualification as a BA and after that, as BCom. Madhu Kishwar, women’s rights activist, raked up a controversy over the fact that Irani, just a 12th Pass, has been made HRD minister.

The educational qualification controversy has led to a full-blown war of words between the Congress and the BJP, as the Congress intensified protests against an ‘undergraduate’ being appointed HRD development minister. The BJP countered it with questions on Sonia Gandhi’s academic background.

Smriti meanwhile has reacted with one statement saying that there are certain extraneous circumstances being created to deviate attention from her work and asked people to judge her for her work. While the judgement statement maybe fair, one can only wonder why Smriti has not answered one basic question: what is her real qualification and what is the truth.

This is the case with other politicians too, many of who are economical with the truth in their affidavits. The Election Commission needs to show teeth and scrutinise these affidavits of various politicians that show so many discrepancies not just about educational qualifications, but, their financial worth too.

There are so many discrepancies that the affidavit, a sworn statement has become quite meaningless and in fact, simply a piece of paper for candidates to fill in at their convenience. The Election Commission needs to move on this, as leaders cannot be allowed to get away with dubious claims in affidavits.

The public has an inherent skepticism and cynicism about these leaders and starting off on a wrong note can only deepen that. The EC can take suo motu cognisance of all such disproportionate claims and initiate action against those who make false claims, so that an affidavit lives up to its definition: a written sworn statement made voluntarily under an oath.

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