New Delhi: HRD Minister Smriti Irani was on Wednesday at the centre of a raging controversy over her educational qualification after it emerged that she had made contradictory declarations when she contested Lok Sabha elections in 2004 and 2014.

The Congress, one of whose leaders struck a different note, escalated its attack while the BJP hit back asking answers from it about the educational qualifications of Sonia Gandhi.

Ever since Madhu Kishwar, a women's rights activist, raked up a controversy over the fact that Irani, just a 12th Pass, has been made HRD Minister, the issue has only snowballed.

The 38-year-old television actor-turned-politician preferred to keep mum. She refused to comment when the media approached her.

There was more embarrassment for the BJP and the new government after it emerged that Irani had given contradictory declarations in her affidavits in 2004 and 2014 when she contested Lok Sabha elections from two different constituencies.

As a candidate in 2004 elections from Chandni Chowk in Delhi, Irani had declared that she had a Bachelor of Arts degree.

"B.A. 1996 Delhi University (School of Correspondence)", she had written in the column which seeks details of university education and the year in which the course was completed.

In the same column of the affidavit filed in the 2014 elections from Amethi, Irani has said,"Bachelor of Commerce Part-1, School of Open Learning (Correspondence), University of Delhi-1994".

In 2012, the Supreme Court had ruled that false disclosures in an affidavit can be a ground for rejection of a candidate's nomination.

At the Congress briefing, party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said that the contradictions in the affidavits of Irani "is a mis-statement".

He said that the "distortion" in her 2014 affidavit is "a serious criminal offence and it has electoral consequences".

Singhvi said that the mis-statement is simple in the 2004 affidavit where Irani has clearly claimed to be graduate - BA of 1996.

"In the 2014 affidavit it is specified that it is only BA Part I and that only means one year and not a full degree. So, 2004 affidavit has a mis-statement. We do not know whether the 2014 is a mis-statement or 2004 is a mis-statement but both cannot be true. That is the main issue," he said.

Singhvi insisted that Congress has not raised the issue of ministers not having educational qualification whether it is class V, class VIII pass, Ph.D. or MA.

"You know very well that there are other ministers in the government whose qualifications are of eighth class school, 6th class school. We have not raised that issue," he said.

What we have said is the appropriateness, the context of this Ministry matching with this optics.

Besides, he said that it cannot also be forgotten that this august ministry has been headed by names like Maulana Azad, Fakhruddin Ahmed, Prof. Nurul Hasan, VKRV Rao, Sidharth Shankar Ray, Karan Singh, K C Pant, V P Singh and M M Joshi.

He said it is a post where you head the Boards of IITs, IIMs.