(Pic: TR Zeliang filing his nomination paper)
The ghost of his ‘educational qualification’—after a brief stay in the closet—has returned to haunt Chief Minister TR Zeliang in the aftermath of his filing nomination papers to contest the forthcoming Nagaland assembly elections.
After seeking respite through a series of courtroom drama in the previous couple of years, the chief minister was finally made to declare his true academic qualification when he filed nomination on Feb. 7.
Now it is finally out in the open—the chief minister had failed in the 1979 BA examinations. The affidavit submitted while filing his nomination paper for the 7th Peren assembly constituency (AC) was uploaded to the website of the chief election officer late in the afternoon.
The chief minister’s opponent, Kengim Kulimbe—who will also contest in the same constituency as an independent candidate—wasted no time in issuing a statement pointing out Zeliang’s public declaration. Kulimbe, it must be noted, was one of the complainants to go to court against Zeliang in connection with his academic documents in the past years.
“It has come to light that Mr. TR Zeliang, chief minister of Nagaland has filed nomination papers for the upcoming assembly elections supported by a duly sworn affidavit in which he has shown his educational qualification as under-graduate. This is a shocking departure from his earlier publicly stated claim that he is a graduate and has passed his BA examination in the year 1980 from Kohima College, Kohima affiliated to NEHU.
“Mr. TR Zeliang has earlier on many occasions has filed affidavits before various authorities including Election Commission of India claiming that he is a graduate from Kohima College. Now as per his own admission in the newest affidavit filed before the returning officer, 7-Peren Assembly Constituency for the upcoming assembly elections, he confesses that he is not a graduate. Therefore, it is clear that earlier attempts by Mr. TR Zeliang to portray himself as a graduate is nothing but false-hood and this has brought shame to the people of Nagaland,” the statement read.
According to the statement, as the constitutional head of the state Zeliang had failed to maintain the minimum for honesty which public life demands. “Mr. Zeliang before taking this u-turn, previously on various public discourse and government platform has emphatically claimed himself as graduate. One such instance of his false claim was until recently available in the Nagaland government website where his qualification was shown as BA graduate.
“This present u-turn of Mr. Zeliang was not because of any repentance on his part, but fear of rejection of his nomination by the returning officer, 7-Peren Assembly Constituency, when I had raised the same issue of false / forged BA degree before the returning officer and the same is pending decision. Time has come for the people of Nagaland to decide whether such individuals who files false affidavits on oath and makes false claims of his educational qualification can be at all trusted with their votes.”
In another complaint addressed to the returning officer of Peren, Kulimbe had also called for rejection of Zeliang’s nomination on the ground that he did not qualify as an indigenous inhabitant of the state of Nagaland. He had written that the 7th Peren assembly constituency was reserved for the scheduled tribes of Nagaland and that the chief minister was not an indigenous inhabitant as per the government of Nagaland notification of Apr. 28, 1977 issued by the department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms which entails that in order to qualify as an “indigenous inhabitant” of the state of Nagaland, a person should have settled permanently in Nagaland prior to Dec. 1, 1963.
However the returning officer had accepted Zeliang’s nomination papers on the ground that the issue raised was not in his purview to decide but by the court. (Eastern Mirror)