Panaji: Goa Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar was on Tuesday accused of "faking" his educational qualification in his poll-related affidavit but Deputy Chief Minister Francis D'Souza said an elected representative "need not be educationally qualified".
Francis D'Souza said that while lying on oath was wrong, even "zero standard" was acceptable as educational qualification for a public representative.
Parulekar is the second cabinet minister and third legislator in the 40-member Goa legislative assembly to be accused of faking educational qualification in a sworn affidavit submitted to the Election Commission of India before elections.
Earlier, the Aam Aadmi Party in Goa accused Public Works Department Minister Ramakrishna alias Sudin Dhavalikar of having a 'fake' Bachelor of Science degree. In his defence, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said educational qualification was not a criteria to be a minister.
"Information obtained under the Right To Information Act shows that Dilip Parulekar claimed in his affidavit filed before the 2007 assembly elections that he passed B.Com. from Goa University in 1988," civil society activist Rodrigues said.
"However, in an affidavit filed before the 2012 assembly election, Parulekar said he passed higher secondary (Class 12) from the Goa Board in 1985," Rodrigues told a press conference on Tuesday, where he furnished documents to support his point.
Rodrigues said that RTI replies from Dnyanprassarak Mandal's College near Mapusa, 10 km north of the state capital, showed that Parulekar failed in B.Com, First Year in 1986-87 and failed again in the subsequent academic year.
"He simply could not have passed B.Com. in 1988, as mentioned in the 2007 affidavit," the civil society activist said.
While Parulekar could not be contacted for comments, Deputy Chief Minister Francis D'Souza told reporters that "one did not need any qualification to be a people's representative".
"How does it matter? For being a public representative, I do not require a qualification. I could be just zero standard," D'Souza said.
The deputy chief minister said a lot of "practical issues" crop up while filing affidavits and completing other pre-poll formalities which, he claimed, are voluminous and taxing.
"Some people are not that careful. If you miss out something, it is an offence. If you add something, that is also an offence. So you have to be very careful, while filing returns and affidavits because the whole world is scrutinising your affidavits," D'Souza said.
The deputy chief minister, however, said that lying on a sworn affidavit was not the right thing and that efforts must be made to maintain probity in public life.
Former education minister Atanasio Monserrate - currently an unattached MLA - was also involved in a controversy over his educational qualification. While the legislator claimed he was a matriculate, he was accused of clearing only Class 8.