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Published On: Wed, Aug 26th, 2020

Opposition CM’s call for moving SC over NEET, JEE

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thequint_NEW DELHI : Chief ministers of opposition-ruled states on Wednesday resolved to work together and fight against the Centre for undermining the rights of states as they also decided to move the Supreme Court and seek a review of its earlier verdict giving go-ahead to the government in holding the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) in September.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked all opposition chief ministers to jointly approach the Supreme Court for postponement of JEE and NEET exams in view of Covid-19 while Congress chief Sonia Gandhi contended that students’ problems were being dealt “uncaringly” by the Centre.
At a virtual meeting of Opposition CMs convened by Sonia Gandhi, Banerjee said, “This will be my request to all state govts, let us do it together, let us go to Supreme Court & postpone the exam for the time being until and unless the situation allows students to sit for exam (JEE/NEET).”

The meeting, called at Sonia Gandhi’s behest, also showed some new-found bonhomie between the Congress chief and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. The meeting came less than a week after a letter written by 23 Congress leaders became public. The letter, addressed to Sonia Gandhi, had alleged that the party leadership wasn’t active or visible enough.
Gandhi’s meeting with the seven chief ministers and the manner in which she conducted it, sent a clear message to her critics – that despite her health, she continues to call the shots and has the political stature to lead the charge against the Narendra Modi government.
The Bengal Chief Minister said state governments were being “bulldozed” by the centre in the name of cooperative federalism. “Let us go to the Supreme Court. Let us talk about this matter. This is a mental agony for students.
I have not seen so many atrocities in a democracy. The situation is very serious. We have to speak up for the children,” Mamata Banerjee said.
The Chief Ministers discussed that since the exams start in a week, the next move would have to be fast. The meeting was convened to discuss students’ nationwide demand for the postponement of the engineering and medical entrance tests, the JEE and the NEET, scheduled for September, as well other issues like GST compensation from the Centre to the states, and the opposition’s fight against the Narendra Modi government’s privatisation policies.
Sonia Gandhi said the recently announced National Education Policy was a setback to secular and scientific values. “Announcements such as those related to the National Education Policy should really worry us as it is actually a setback. Other problems of students and exams are also being dealt uncaringly,” she said.
In a virtual meeting called by Sonia Gandhi to discuss the issues of Goods and Services Tax (GST) compensation, NEET and JEE exams in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic, chief ministers of West Bengal (Mamata Banerjee), Maharashtra (Uddhav Thackeray), Jharkhand (Hemant Soren), Punjab (Captain Amarinder Singh), Rajasthan (Ashok Gehlot), Chhattisgarh (Bhupesh Baghel) and Puducherry (V Narayanasamy) stressed the need to protect federalism, claiming that all powers were now concentrated in just one hand.
The Congress had not invited the chief ministers of Odisha (Naveen Patnaik), Delhi (Arvind Kejriwal), Andhra Pradesh (YS Jaganmohan Reddy), Telangana (K Chandrashekhar Rao) and Kerala (Pinarayi Vijayan).
For his part, Thackeray said the opposition-ruled states have to first decide whether they want to “fight or fear” the Modi government. “Opposition-ruled states should speak louder as the Centre is trying to suppress our voices. But we are together, we will be together and we will fight together,” he said

Last week, the Supreme Court refused to entertain a plea seeking postponement of JEE and NEET, scheduled to be held in September, saying that “life cannot be stopped” and the “career of students cannot be put in jeopardy”. Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal has said both the exams would be held next month as per schedule.
The JEE is scheduled from September 1 to 6 and the NEET exam is to be held on September 13. The Supreme Court had last week rejected a petition by 11 students from 11 states asking for the exams to be deferred, saying: “Life cannot be stopped… Are students ready to waste one whole year?”

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said: “We have to decide whether we want to fear or fight the government. The people who that elected the BJP at the centre also elected all of us. But if we do something it is paap (sin) and if they do anything then it is Punya (virtuous)?” He pointed out that while his state was gradually emerging from the lockdown, schools remained shut.
The Congress president reportedly wanted to invite Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan but there was strong opposition from the Congress in Kerala. An invite did go to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal but sources say he declined.
Other states like Tamil Nadu – ruled by BJP ally AIADMK — have also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging that Class 12 marks be the basis for admission into medical colleges instead of entrance exams.
(With Agency Inputs ).

 

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