Pics: LalitGate, degree row, scam, haunt BJP's women ministers

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Fake degree, LalitGate, scam: BJP's power-packed women ministers have faced it all. It seems that the year 2015 is not as lucky for the fairer sex in the BJP-led NDA government.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, HRD Minister Smriti Irani, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and BJP MP from Maharashtra, Pankaja Munde, all of them are embroiled into some heated controversies.

Swaraj, Irani, Raje and Munde are undoubtedly doing their best in their respective fields, but the recent controversies have made a dent on their otherwise clean image.

Let's take a look at how these BJP ministers have come in the eye of political storm:

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has been facing flak from the opposition for allegedly extending help to the tainted former IPL Chairman Lalit Modi in procuring travel documents in the UK, a country which he has made his home to avoid legal processes in India.

Swaraj has admitted that she helped Modi travel to Portugal last July for treatment of his cancer-stricken wife on "humanitarian grounds".

49-year-old Lalit Modi travelled to London in 2010 after the Indian Premier League (IPL) became embroiled in allegations of match-fixing and illegal betting. He is also facing Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigations for alleged tax evasion.

 

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje

The name of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje cropped up on Tuesday, June 16, in connection with the Lalit Modi affair over allegations that she testified in favour of the former IPL chief's British immigration application in 2011.

The opposition Congress has demanded Raje's resignation for helping Modi, who is charged by the Enforcement Directorate with financial impropriety and money laundering in connection with the money-spinning IPL cricket tourney.

Further, igniting the fire, Lalit Modi, in a recent interview acknowledged the fact of his long friendship with Raje.

"My relationship with Vasundhara Raje goes back 30 years. That relationship is known to everybody. She is a close friend of the family and my wife for a long time," he said. He also revealed that Raje had accompanied his wife to Portugal for her cancer treatment two years ago.

"I am close to a lot of politicians. Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel also helped me with travel papers. Rajiv Shukla also helped me with travel documents," he added.

Raje, in a statement issued recently, has accepted the fact that she knows the family of the former IPL boss, who is charged with financial impropriety and money laundering. However, she distanced herself from the document purportedly showing her backing former IPL chief's immigration plea in Britain.

Rajasthan's Congress unit on June 17 passed a resolution at its executive meeting in Udaipur, demanding Raje's ouster.

Meanwhile, Rajasthan BJP has rejected allegations against Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and her son Dushyant Singh in connection with former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi saying the Opposition Congress has no issue to raise, hence, they were targeting the CM.

 

Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani

Since last year, when former Television actress Smriti Irani took over as the Union HRD Minister, there has been a question on her educational qualifications.

Trouble mounted further for Irani on Wednesday, June 24, when a Delhi court took cognizance of a complaint filed against her for allegedly giving false information about her educational qualification.

Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain considered the private complaint against Irani and fixed August 28 for recording pre-summoning evidence in the case.

In her 2014 Lok Sabha election affidavit, Irani reportedly stated she had done B.Com Part 1 from from School of Open Learning in 1994 from Delhi University.

However, in her 2004 Lok Sabha election affidavit, Irani has declared herself to be a 1996 batch B. A. graduate from Delhi University.

NSUI activists today held a protest outside Shastri Bhavan seeking "immediate resignation" of HRD Minister Smriti Irani, accusing her of holding "fake" degrees.

Few days back, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's younger brother Prahlad also demanded that educational qualifications of HRD Minister Smriti Irani should be verified.

Last year in August, Irani had also claimed that she has a degree from Yale University. She was a part of an 11-member group of MPs who had taken part in a crash course (a six-day leadership program) in Yale University.

It seems that Irani's case wouldn't go off limelight soon, more because she is associated with the education department.

 

Maharashtra's Women and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde

Maharashtra's Women and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde is in trouble following allegations that she cleared purchases worth Rs 206 crore through 24 Government Resolutions on a single day instead of inviting tenders.

The alleged purchases relate to a host of items including snacks and books for children in institutions across the state.

Dubbing it as a "big scam", Congress and other opposition parties attacked the 8-month-old BJP-led government headed by Devendra Fadnavis.

Former chief minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan demanded a CBI inquiry and said the scam exposed the "true colours" of the government.

The scam first came to light on June 15, when the office of Pankaja Munde received a letter from Ahmednagar Zila Parishad president Manjushree Gund complaining about the quality of chikki (a popular snack) distributed to tribal students under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS).

Gund said the chikki was contaminated with clay. All purchases were cleared by Munde, daughter of BJP stalwart late Gopinath Munde on a single day on February 13 through 24 Government Resolutions (GR).

As per norms, all government purchases above Rs 3 lakh have to be done through e-tendering.

 

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