Kolkata: What’s the real educational qualification of Nisith Pramanik, the newly inducted minister of state for home affairs in the Union Cabinet? The Lok Sabha MP from Cooch Behar in West Bengal seemed to have provided contradictory information in his election affidavits and before the parliament.
The controversy over his educational qualification broke out after Pramanik was named the new deputy of home minister Amit Shah following the cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday.
The 35-year-old Pramanik, who recently contested in the Bengal assembly elections and won but resigned to retain his Lok Sabha membership, had written Madhyamik Pariksha or secondary exam as his highest educational qualification in both affidavits.
However, Pramanik’s profile on the Lok Sabha website says his educational qualification is “Bachelors of Computer Applications (B.C.A.) Educated at Balakura Junior Basic School.”
BCA is a three-year undergraduate course for which passing higher secondary, or the class 12, is mandatory.
Several Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders from Cooch Behar district have pointed this out to be a major discrepancy.
“In March, his highest educational qualification was to have appeared in the secondary exam – he did not clarify in his affidavit if he passed the exam. And now, in July, he has a bachelor’s degree! How can one have a bachelor’s degree without having passed the higher secondary exam?” asked former TMC MLA Udayan Guha, whom Pramanik defeated from Dinhata assembly seat by a narrow margin of 57 votes.
TMC’s former Cooch Behar MP, Partha Pratim Roy, also raised the same question on Pramanik’s different educational qualifications, in a social media post.
Guha alleged that the school that Pramanik’s Lok Sabha profile refers to is a non-descript junior school where no such course had been conducted. “This is a junior basic school for students up to class 5. How can it offer an undergraduate degree?” he asked.
The Wire could not independently verify Guha’s claims, as authorities at the Balakura Junior Basic School could not be contacted.
Local residents said that the school at Burirhat area is about 8 km away from the MP’s residence at Bhetaguri in Dinhata area.
Pramanik’s profile, however, does not mention that the school gave him the degree. It says that the course was conducted at the school. However, the profile also does not mention which institution offered the degree, even if the school premises was used as a venue.
The Wire sent Pramanik questions through text and WhatsApp messages, requesting him to offer a clarification and details of the course such as affiliation and time of completion but no response was received till the filing of this report. It will be updated as and when a reply from him is received.
Pramanik was a TMC youth wing leader in Cooch Behar district whom the party expelled in 2018, following which he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections at the initiative of Mukul Roy, a Mamata Banerjee confidante who was at that time with the BJP. Pramanik bagged the Lok Sabha ticket and won with a comfortable margin. However, in the recently concluded assembly elections, he managed to win from Dinhata seat by a nominal margin. He did not take oath at the assembly to retain his Lok Sabha membership.
Since Mukul Roy’s switch over to the TMC last month, speculations had been doing the rounds that the TMC was also looking to get Pramanik back. Since then, Pramanik has spent substantial time in New Delhi, meeting national-level leaders.
No senior leader of Bengal BJP wanted to comment on the controversy regarding his educational qualification, saying Pramanik was the best person to answer it.
He had mentioned 11 criminal cases against him in his 2019 affidavit and 13 cases in a 2021 affidavit, including charges of murder, dacoity, theft, and possession of explosives.
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya is a journalist and author based in Kolkata.