Rival candidates allege Manipur education minister unsure of his age, education
Manipur education minister Sorokhaibam Rajen has rejected the accusations of his rival candidates and filed a complaint before the chief judicial magistrate, Imphal, against them for ‘false allegations and for harming his reputation’.
IMPHAL: Setting aside their differences, four rival candidates of Manipur education minister Sorokhaibam Rajen in the coming Manipur assembly polls have joined hands to accuse him of being unsure of his age and education.
The four candidates, Arambam Karamjit (Independent), Khundrakpam Kanba Meitei (Janata Dal-United), Pukhrambam Sumati (National Peoples’ Party) and Likmabam Manibabu (Congress) have alleged that Bharatiya Janata Party candidate and education minister Rajen furnished false information in his election affidavits repeatedly for the last 15 years.
Last week, all four candidates of Lamshang seat addressed a joint press conference (a rarity, since their parties don’t have poll-alliance) where the only topic of discussion was Rajen’s alleged “dubious education records and even more dubious ‘age history’.”
“Rajen’s poll affidavits submitted from 2007 elections till 2022 lacks clarity about his age, educational qualification and his father’s name”, said Congress candidate Manibabu.
The rival candidates drew the attention of the Election Commission of India (ECI) to these disparities and urged the latter to reject his candidature. The minister was also accused of not giving details of a pending case against him at Patsoi police station under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 326 (Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means) and 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and 27 (Punishment for using arms) of Arms Act.
Rajen’s rivals alleged the minister in his affidavit filed in the 2007 assembly election claimed he graduated in 1985 from Manipur University. In the next election in 2012, Rajen changed his information about his qualification and claimed that he passed his Bachelor of Arts (BA) in 1992 from Manipur University.
In the 2017 polls, he again reiterated that he acquired his BA degree from Manipur University in 1992. However, in his affidavit filed for the coming election, Rajen said that he got his BA degree from YK College at Wangjing, which is under Manipur University, in 1998.
In their letter to the EC, Rajen’s rivals also pointed out that while the minister mentioned his father’s name as S. Nilla Singh in his affidavits filed in 2007 and 2012, in 2017 and 2022 it was mentioned as S. Yaimabi Singh.
“I requested the returning officer to reject the nomination and to initiate action against Rajen by filing a formal complaint according to election commission procedure. But the officer failed to file a complaint”, said Manibabu.
The Congress candidate further said that Rajen does not have a fixed date of birth. In 2007, he mentioned his age as 43 years. Five years later, it was stated to be 53. In 2017, his age was recorded as 52, and for this election Rajen’s age is stated to be 57.
“The chief electoral officer Rajesh Agrawal has stated that the returning officer does not have the power to reject nominations because of allegedly false information. So, we will file an election disqualification petition against Rajen in court”, said Manibabu.
On the other hand, rejecting the accusations of his rivals, education minister Rajen has filed a complaint before the chief judicial magistrate, Imphal, against all four of them for “false allegations and for harming his reputation”.
He filed a petition, requesting the magistrate to take cognizance of the offence under IPC sections 500 (Punishment for defamation) and 34 against the rival candidates.
“I filed a complaint against them for those irrelevant allegations, the truth will be decided by the court”, said Rajen.
Speaking about his BA degree, the minister said he graduated in 1988 from Manipur University. But since the certificate was missing, he published an advertisement about it in the local dailies. Accordingly, the controller of the examination of MU issued a fresh certificate to him on February 3, 2022.
Chief electoral officer Rajesh Agrawal said that the returning officer’s job is not what the rival candidates think to be. The candidates were free to take the matter to court if they wanted, and only courts can take the matter forward. Since Rajen’s nomination has already been accepted, the rival can file a complaint or petition before the court, he added.
Polling for the 60-member Manipur legislative assembly will be held in two phases on February 28 and March 5. The votes will be counted on March 10.