Manipur Education Minister Sorokhaibam Rajen

With elections just a week away, political parties are trying every trick in the book to outsmart their rivals. But it seems that against one sitting minister, the opposition parties have, for now, decided to put aside their rivalry and go all in targeting him. The man in question is Manipur Education Minister Sorokhaibam Rajen, contesting from the Lamshang assembly constituency on a BJP ticket. 

Rajen, in his affidavits submitted over the last 15 years, seems to be unsure about his age, educational qualifications, and his father’s name, and rival candidates want his candidature dismissed for allegedly submitting false information. 

Last week, rival candidates Arambam Karamjit (independent), Khundrkapam Kanba Meitei (JD-U), Pukhrambam Sumati (NPP), and Likmabam Manibabu (INC) came together for a press conference, where the only topic of discussion was Singh’s dubious education records and even more dubious ‘age history’. 

The four candidates informed they would take the matter to the Manipur High Court if the ECI does not take appropriate action.

TWO DEGREES IN 7 YEARS, NO MARKSHEET

In his affidavit filed before the 2007 assembly election, Rajen mentioned he had graduated in 1985 from Manipur University. But in 2012, Rajen revealed that he did his BA in 1992 from MU. In 2017, he maintained the same, which indicates that he lied in 2007, the rivals said. However, in his latest submission for the 2022 elections, Rajen has shown 1988 as his year of graduation. 

 “How can a minister repeatedly submit false information and get away with it?” Likmabam Manibabu asked EastMojo.

“Every election cycle, his age changes, his education degrees change and when we ask him for proof, he says he has lost all his certificates. How is this being allowed,” he asked. 

Manibabu said, for now, he is waiting for the Election Commission to respond to their complaint, else they will have no option but to approach the court. 

However, the Election Commission of India has made it clear that the Returning Officer’s job is not what the rival candidates think to be.

“The Returning Officer’s job is quasi-judicial. The RO’s job is not to check the veracity of the documents; rather, they are supposed to ensure all affidavits are complete. In the case of Rajen, since his nomination has been accepted, it is now for the courts to decide. The RO does not have the power to reject nominations because of allegedly false information. If that were the case, the nomination process would never finish,” CEO Rajesh Agrawal told EastMojo

Agrawal said the candidates were free to take the matter to court if they wanted, and only courts can take the matter forward. 

Manipur Chief Election Officer Rajesh Agrawal the Returning Officer’s job is not to look at allegations made by rival candidates

However, rival candidates believe the Election Commission of India can do better.

“This is not the first time he (Rajen) has done so. The ECI should have taken action already but they have decided to ignore the matter. You think they would have let other parties do this,” said one of the rivals on the condition of anonymity. 

Manibabu has asked the Returning Officer to reject the nomination and to initiate action to prosecute Rajen by filing a formal complaint before the appropriate authority under section 195 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, read with section 177 of IPC, 1908 as per the election commission.

Then, there is the question of Rajen’s age. The rivals pointed out that in 2007, his age was 43 years, in the year 2012 he was 53, in the year 2017 his age was again recorded as 52, and in the year 2022 his age is 57 years. 

RAJEN SAYS ATTEMPT TO SLANDER HIS REPUTATION

After the criticism, Rajen on Wednesday filed a complaint petition against his four rival candidates, calling these false allegations relating to different BA passing year certificates.

Rajen also appeared before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal West and filed a complaint petition, requesting the Magistrate to take cognizance of the offence under section 500/34 IPC against the rival candidates.

Rajen alleged his four opposing candidates of the false allegation and to harm the imputation, reputation against him. 

He also stated that because of serious false allegations, his prestige and reputation has been lowered in front of the large public in Manipur and the country. As such, the accused are liable to punishment under section 500 IPC and prayed for issuing a warrant of arrest against them and punishment according to the law, he stated.

Speaking about his BA degree, Singh said he passed his graduation in 1988 from Manipur University. But the certificate was missing and untraceable and so, he published a missing certificate advertisement in the local dailies, the petition said. Accordingly, the controller of the examination of MU issued a certificate on February 3, 2022. 

He passed BA from YK College under Roll Number 13681 of 1988, he stated on his petition. 

Malicious falsehood cannot become freedom of speech: Delhi HC


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