GUWAHATI: At a time when the Supreme Court is about to hear a petition that seeks to make graduation mandatory for candidates contesting polls, four out of total 14 MPs in Assam have been found falling short of this minimum qualification benchmark.
This was revealed in a report of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), an election watchdog. The report said while two of the four undergraduate MPs are from the ruling BJP, one is from All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and another one an Independent.

"The educational qualification of BJP's Dibrugarh MP Rameshwar Teli is matriculation. He passed the 10th board exam in 1989 from Tipling Ghat High School. He has the lowest educational qualification among all the MPs from the state," the report stated. It said the other undergraduate MP from the saffron camp is Pradan Baruah from Lakhimpur. Baruah has studied upto Class XII.

Though BJP hadn't declared its list of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls till the time of filing the report, both Teli and Baruah are likely to contest the polls again. 

Former Ulfa hardliner and incumbent MP from Kokrajhar, Naba Kumar Sarania, has also studied upto Class 12. He did his schooling from Tamulpur in Baksa district of Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD). Sarania is likely to contest from Kokrajhar again. Pramila Rani Brahma, state's social welfare minister who is contesting on a Bodoland People's Front (BPF) ticket from the seat, is a graduate. BPF is an ally of BJP in the state government.

The report said Radheshyam Biswas, AIUDF MP from Kamrimganj, has also studied upto Class 12. Like Teli and Baruah, Biswas is likely to contest polls again.

However, the other 10 MPs from the state are either graduates or postgraduates. The MPs who are graduates are AIUDF MP (Barpeta) Siraj Uddin Ajmal, BJP MPs Ramen Deka (Mangoldoi), Rajen Gohain (Nagaon) and RP Sarmah (Tezpur), the ADR report said. Sources, however, said the three BJP MPs may not contest parliamentary polls this time.

The remaining parliamentarians - AIUDF's Badruddin Ajmal (Dhubri), BJP's Kamakhya Prasad Tasa (Jorhat) and Bijoya Chakraborty (Guwahati), Congress's Biren Singh Engti (Autonomous District), Gaurav Gogoi (Kaliabor) and Sushmita Dev (Silchar) - have done their post-graduation. The prayer in the apex court says since the functions performed by lawmakers are vital to democracy, they should be educated enough to understand the 'pros and cons of the laws'. The SC is going to take up the matter on March 25.

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