Guwahati: As electioneering reaches its crescendo for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, Queen Oja, the high-profile Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate for the prestigious Guwahati Parliamentary constituency in Assam, seems to be in trouble for allegedly submitting “false information” about her educational qualification in the affidavit submitted in her nomination papers.
Reacting to the allegation, the Election Commission (EC) has now said that it has taken note of the reports over the affidavit filed by Oja on Monday and has decided to seek a report from the district election officer in this regard.
Oja, a senior politician and former Guwahati Municipal Corporation mayor, in her affidavit had mentioned her highest academic qualification as ‘higher secondary (HS)’ which she cleared from KK Handique State Open University (KKHSOU) in 2011.
Reacting sharply to the issue, Oja’s rivals, Congress candidate from Guwahati Bobbeeta Sharma and senior advocate and independent candidate Upamanyu Hazarika, have also decided to approach the EC in this regard.
Meanwhile, terming it a political conspiracy against her, Oja said that she has not submitted any false document in her affidavit. “I have not provided any false information in the affidavit. You will get to know all the truth on the day of scrutiny. The Congress is losing in Guwahati and that is why it is spreading all these rumours,” she was quoted as saying by media reports.
Reacting to the issue, Hitesh Deka, vice-chancellor of KK Handique State Open University, clarified that the university doesn’t offer any higher secondary or 12th standard course. No university in the country offers higher secondary courses, he added.
During the assembly election held in 2011, Oja contested from East Gauhati constituency on an Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) ticket. In her affidavit then, Oja had mentioned her academic qualification as “matriculation in 1968” from Panbazar Girls’ High School.
Meanwhile, experts in the academic department of KKHSOU, on condition of anonymity, informed this author that Oja did her a Bachelor Preparatory Programme (BPP) in 2011-12 and took admission in the degree course, but did not continue.
Elaborating on the BPP programme, the sources further said that it is offered to students who leave their studies mid-way in schools. “If anyone completes the course, the student becomes eligible to apply to get admission in degree course in the KKHSOU itself,” a source said, adding: “But completing the course can’t be termed as higher secondary programme. However, to take admission in degree programmes, this BPP can be considered as equivalent to the HS in case of KKHSOU only.”
The academic expert further said that approval of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) is a must to certify the BPP as equivalent to the HS. However, the AIU is yet to give its nod in this regard so far.
The filing of nominations for the Lok Sabha election 2019 began on March 28 and will continue till April 4. The scrutiny of nomination papers will begin on April 5, while the last date of withdrawal of candidature is April 8. Further, the counting of votes will begin on May 23, on the day of polling, and the entire election process will end on or before May 27.