Union minister Smriti Irani files her nomination for Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat on Friday. BJP President Amit Shah is also seen

BJP national president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani avoided Hindi, the ‘Rashtra Bhasha’, while filing nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha

BJP national president Amit Shah avoided using the ‘Rashtra Bhasha’ while filing his affidavit with his nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha. The affidavit was finally uploaded on the website of the Chief Electoral Officer, Gujarat on Monday evening and Shah’s affidavit was filed in Gujarati. Union Minister Smriti Irani’s affidavit is in English though.

The candidates are under no obligation to file their affidavits in Hindi or English, points out Laxmi Sriram from the Association For Democratic Reforms (ADR). But with the Bharatiya Janata Party and the RSS aggressively championing the cause of Hindi, the use of Gujarati by the party’s national president appeared ironical.

Indeed, BJP’s vice-presidential candidate M. Venkaiah Naidu triggered a controversy recently by declaring that Hindi was India’s ‘national language’ and that the country could not hope to progress without it. He had to be reminded that Hindi was an official language and not the national language of India.

“Hindi is our ‘national language’, our identity and we should be proud of it”, Naidu had said and stressed that widespread use of English language was detrimental to the progress of the nation. Going a step further, he further said that “While learning English, we have trained our minds like English people. This is not in the interests of the nation.”

Earlier in April, Naidu had defended a move by the Parliamentary Committee on Official Language which proposed to make use of Hindi mandatory for MPs and Union ministers and Constitutional authorities, who could read and write the language.

Opposition leaders, however, retorted that the Indian Constitution does not mark any language as “national”. Under Article 343, Hindi and English have been assigned the status of official languages.

While several media websites had taken down reports within hours of reporting that Amit Shah’s assets had grown by 300 per cent between 2012-17, BJP issued a press statement on Monday and clarified that the rise in the party president’s assets was overwhelming only because of the inheritance from his late mother.

However, the news-websites which initially published the story on Sunday and then pulled it down mysteriously, are yet to come out with an explanation.

Irani—who in 2014 had sparked a controversy by asking Kendriya Vidyalayas to dump German in favour of Sanskrit as the third language, opted to file her affidavit in English.

Her affidavit filed on Saturday settles the controversy generated by her contradictory claims about her educational qualification. In 2004 she had claimed to have done her graduation and claimed to have secured a Bachelor of Arts degree. But in 2012 she claimed to have studied B.Com up to the first year. In her latest affidavit she has finally admitted that she had not completed undergraduate studies in Commerce.

In August 2014 when she was HRD minister, she had asserted in the middle of a raging controversy over her educational qualification that she also had a degree from the prestigious Yale University in the US. She, however, hasn’t mentioned that degree in the new affidavit.

“People call me illiterate. I do have a degree from Yale University as well which I can bring out and show how Yale celebrated my leadership capacities,” she had said after being called upon to clear the air about her education.

Laxmi Sriram, programme officer at ADR said: “It was in 2002 during Gujarat assembly elections that the contesting candidates following a Supreme Court order started filing election affidavits regarding financial and criminal details along with nomination papers. Complying to the court order, the Election Commission of India and Chief Electoral Offices in States started putting up the affidavits on their websites.”

But though the candidates are free to file their affidavits in any recognised language, a summary in Hindi and English would be desirable in the interest of transparency, conceded Sriram.

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