Varun told HC he has degrees from LSE, SOAS; the institutions say he does not

On March 19, Varun Gandhi appealed to the Allahabad High Court to quash the criminal case filed against him for making hate speeches in Pilibhit. In his petition, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, Gandhi claimed he had graduated from the London School of Economics (LSE), and then received a Masters degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Both LSE and SOAS have now said Gandhi's claim is not accurate.

In his writ petition, Gandhi submitted: "That the petitioner is a well-educated and peace-loving citizen and has done his BSc Economics from the London School of Economics in the year 1999 till 2002, and thereafter went on to do his MSc in public policy at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, in the year 2002-2004."

In a widely-circulated e-mail to faculty and alumni, Zeba Salman, alumni relations officer at SOAS, said Gandhi did not complete his course at SOAS. "Feroze Varun Gandhi withdrew from his MSc programme at SOAS, and hence did not actually graduate from SOAS," Salman wrote. Dr Rachel Dwyer, faculty member at SOAS, confirmed this to The Indian Express.

Sumantra Bose, Professor of International and Comparative Politics at

LSE, said Gandhi was never a regular student at LSE.

"Mr Gandhi's connection to LSE was through the University of London External System, which is a distance-learning provision," Professor Bose told The Indian Express. "He was never a regular undergraduate at the LSE. He was never admitted into the LSE's own undergraduate student body and he was never a member of LSE's campus," Professor Bose added.

A senior administrator from LSE who did not wish to be named, said: "Varun Gandhi applied for admission to LSE, but was rejected; his degree is from the University of London. He cannot call himself an LSE graduate."

The discrepancy in Gandhi's claims was first noticed by independent journalist Raghu Karnad during an ongoing campaign by LSE and SOAS faculty and alumni to dissociate themselves from the BJP leader's anti-Muslim outburst. Karnad detected many contradictions between what the universities told him, and what Gandhi has been publicly claiming.

On being asked about these contradictions by The Indian Express, Gandhi's lawyer Gopal Chaturvedi declined to comment.

Since Gandhi's writ petition and accompanying affidavit were made under oath, these allegations — if true — would mean that Gandhi lied to the court. If found guilty, the court can initiate contempt proceedings as well as perjury charges under section 191 of the Indian Penal Code. The maximum punishment for making "false statements" in court is seven years in jail.

Gandhi was arrested and sent to judicial custody amid high drama Saturday after the Allahabad High Court threw out his plea for quashing the FIR.

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