Politics

Which Year Did Haryana’s CM Graduate From College? RTI Query Draws Blank.

Responses from the governor’s house, the assembly secretariat and the chief minister’s office say there is no information.

Manohar Lal Khattar. Credit: PTI/Files

Manohar Lal Khattar. Credit: PTI/Files

The education qualification of Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar has become a big mystery with both the Haryana state assembly secretariat and the chief minister’s office (CMO) pleading ignorance about it, in reply to a RTI query. However, the state’s BJP president on Thursday claimed that Khattar had graduated in 1975.

While filing his nomination papers for the 2014 assembly election, Khattar had only mentioned his educational qualification as “Graduate, Delhi University, New Delhi” and had left blank the other column where details of highest educational qualification were sought. Due to this, lawyer-activist Hemant Kumar had filed a RTI query with the state public information officer (SPIO) at Haryana Raj Bhawan on May 19, seeking details about Khattar’s degree.

What subject and which year?

Kumar, a lawyer in the Punjab and Haryana high court, had asked if Khattar had done his graduation in BA, BSc, BCom or some other course; what was the year in which he completed his graduation, the name of the college or department of Delhi University from which he had pursued the aforesaid degree course and the percentage of marks /division obtained by him either year wise or in the final year of the course.

In the RTI application, Kumar had also stated that while this information should have been voluntarily stated by Khattar in his election affidavit, the concerned returning officer did not notice the omission at the time of scrutinising Khattar’s nomination papers, who was later handpicked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lead the BJP government in the state.

RTI plea was repeatedly transferred

Rather than replying to the RTI application, the SPIO at Raj Bhawan transferred it under Section 6(3) of the Act to its counterpart in Haryana Vidhan Sabha on May 26, which in turn transferred it to SPIO at the CMO on June 15, asserting that the information as sought may be available in its office.

After waiting for a fortnight, the SPIO in CMO replied that as per the record of the secretariat, the information sought was not available with it.

In a statement on Thursday, which was also tweeted, president of Haryana state BJP Subhash Brala claimed that as per “authenticated information” available with him, Khattar had done his graduation from Delhi University in ‘Economics and Political Science’ in 1975 and that his roll number was 60166.

While not attaching any documents with his release, and without mentioning the college where Khattar studied and graduated from, Brala said those who may want Khattar’s complete educational details could obtain the information from the university with the details provided by the BJP Haryana president.

Brala also did not explain why the party rather than the government chose to respond to the issue. Several attempts to reach Brala on his mobile phone proved futile as it was switched off.

The petitioner Kumar, who, if he wants to, has a month’s time to appeal against this response to the First Appellate Authority cum Under Secretary at the CMO, said he “wonders if any official record is maintained regarding the details of academic record of CM and if so, by which public authority?”

Incidentally, prior to this Kumar had also exposed a discrepancy in the educational qualifications of Haryana assembly speaker Kanwar Pal through an RTI application. Following his application, the Haryana assembly had removed from its official website the name of speaker Kanwar Pal’s college and also changed his educational qualification to BA second year from Bachelor of Arts.

The issue of Khattar’s educational qualifications has come after the qualifications of several prominent leaders, including prime minister Narendra Modi, Union minister Smriti Irani and former Delhi minister Jitender Singh Tomar, have already made headlines.

This report has been updated after the press release issued by the president of the Haryana BJP