Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang who is contesting from 7 Peren Assembly constituency on Naga People’s Front ticket has found himself embroiled in his educational qualification issue.
During the scrutiny of nominations of candidates in Peren on Thursday, it was reportedly brought to light that Zeliang had filed his nomination by declaring in the affidavit that he appeared in BA examinations from Kohima College, then under North Eastern Hills University, in 1979 but failed.
His opponent Kengim Kulimbe, who is fighting as an independent candidate from the same constituency, was quick to issue a statement, pointing out that Zeliang on many occasions earlier had filed affidavits before various authorities, including the Election Commission of India, that he is a graduate from Kohima College. However, in the newest affidavit filed before the returning officer of 7 Peren Assembly constituency, for the upcoming Assembly elections, he confessed that he is not a graduate, Kulimbe said.
The independent candidate went on to say that Zeliang’s present U-turn is not because of any repentance on his part but because of fear of rejection of his nomination papers by the returning officer. He said it is for the people of Nagaland to decide whether they can trust such individuals with their votes who file false affidavits on oath and make false claim of his educational qualification.
Kulimbe, in another complaint to the Returning Officer, also demanded rejection of Zelaing’s nominations on the ground that he did not qualify as an indigenous inhabitant of the State of Nagaland.
Stating that the 7 Peren Assembly constituency is reserved for Scheduled Tribe of Nagaland, he said the Chief Minister is not an indigenous inhabitant of the State as per the Government of Nagaland notification dated of April 28, 1977 which entails that in order to qualify as an indigenous inhabitant of the State of Nagaland, a person should have settled in Nagaland prior to December 1, 1963, when Nagaland got statehood.
Meanwhile, president of Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) of 7 Peren Assembly constituency Itwa also demanded disqualification of Zeliang on the same ground.
In a complaint letter to the RO of the constituency, Itwa demanded immediate action on the matter.
He also demanded that the action taken report be submitted to his office. The returning officer had decided to refer the matter to the court of law for necessary action and verdict it deems fit.