NEET, JEE row: Sonia calls opposition-meet, Mamata suggests approaching SC
On Wednesday, at the opposition meeting convened by Congress President Sonia Gandhi on the controversy around JEE and NEET examinations, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee suggested approaching Supreme Court seeking a postponement. The competitive exams, scheduled for September, have kicked a row with many students and parents asking for deferring them, in the wake of the raging coronavirus crisis. Here are more details.
Context: Holding exams amid coronavirus crisis risky, said many
The competitive examinations, conducted by NTA, are being held at a time when India's COVID-19 tally has crossed 32.31 lakh and over 59,000 are dead. There is a palpable concern that examinations would put students and their respective families at risk. Last week, an attempt to defer the examinations was crushed by SC when it concluded that not conducting them would damage students' careers.
Students demanded deferring exams, politicians joined their cause
After top court's order, the chorus against conducting the examinations has grown louder with lakhs of students and some politicians like Banerjee, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi, MK Stalin, Aaditya Thackeray, and BJP's Subramanian Swamy, supporting the cause. Today, Sonia, who recently managed to save her post for another six months, called a meeting, that was attended by some CMs of Congress.
Banerjee said Centre's behavior caused mental agony to students
Banerjee, one of the most staunch critics of Centre, suggested going to SC against this decision. "Let us talk about this matter. This is a mental agony for students. I have not seen so many atrocities in a democracy," she said. Her Punjab counterpart Captain Amarinder Singh concurred, saying that all who are part of the virtual meeting must knock on SC's doors.
Hemant Soren thought approaching PM, President would be better
When Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren said they should approach Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind before going to the top court, Captain Singh said they don't have the time as September is around the corner. "We can meet the PM but if he doesn't listen then we must move SC," Banerjee said. Soren also spoke about logistics required to conduct exams.
Situation in my state not conducive: Soren
"Exams must happen, but we are hurrying up. The situation in my state is that we have very few centers. To accommodate these students, we will have to open all hotels and buses. Chances of contracting COVID-19 will be higher," Soren added.
Darna hai ki ladna hai: Uddhav Thackeray asked attendees
At the meeting, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, Soren, and Banerjee spoke about protecting the "federal structure." The Shiv Sena leader said, "All powers are now getting concentrated in one hand. First, we will have to decide darna hain ki ladna hain...ladna hain to ladna hain..we have to protect federalism." Meanwhile, Sonia also slammed the recently-launched National Education Policy.
Amid controversy, Pokhriyal said plans won't change
While opposition leaders are weighing their options, HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' said that the examinations are being held after immense pressure from students and teachers. He said NTA has made elaborate plans to conduct exams smoothly, adding that 80% of the JEE aspirants have already downloaded their admit cards. JEE exams are scheduled for September 1-6 and NEET for September 13.