NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was forced on Monday to produce his college degrees, days after bitter political rivals accused him of lying about graduating from university.
At a press conference in the capital, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and ruling party chief Amit Shah released copies of Modi’s Bachelor of Arts and Masters degrees and accused the opposition of running a smear campaign.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Shah demanded Aam Admi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal apologise for “spreading lies” about the prime minister, as a political row over the degrees intensified.
“If you (Kejriwal) did not have any proof how did you make such an allegation? You have tried to spread lies. You must apologise publicly to the nation,” Shah told a televised press conference.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to hold such a press conference at all,” Shah added.
Jaitley, Modi’s top lieutenant, accused Kejriwal of attempting to mislead voters instead of getting on with the job of governing the Indian capital.
Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal, a bitter Modi rival, last week accused the premier of lying about graduating from Delhi University with a BA and obtaining a Masters in Political Science from Gujarat University.
The AAP refused to back down on Monday, with leader Ashutosh, who uses one name, insisting there were “glaring discrepancies” in the released certificates, including different spellings of Modi’s name.
Social media lit up on Monday over the controversy, with many users in India sympathetic to Modi, and with #kejriwalsaysorry trending on Twitter.
Modi, who came from humble beginnings and sold tea at a railway station as a boy, stormed to power in 2014, when the BJP won the biggest majority in three decades.
The Congress party, which suffered a drubbing at the general election, has also weighed into the controversy, claiming Modi should “come clean” on the issue.