Chennai, Jan 8 (PTI): Political parties in Tamil Nadu, except the BJP, on Saturday resolved to wage a unified legal battle to completely abolish National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to medical colleges in the State.
A decision to this effect was taken at an all political party leaders meeting chaired by Chief Minister M K Stalin at the Secretariat here.
The resolution passed by 12 political parties amid a walkout by the BJP states that NEET examination and the subsequent National Medical Commission Act have greatly affected the Tamil Nadu students by imposing NEET for admissions to medical colleges.
"The Centre has deprived the State government of the right to decide on the manner of admitting its students to the State-run medical colleges. This is against State autonomy," the resolution said.
"NEET is the problem of Tamil Nadu - the problem of our students. .. In a country like India where the poor live, where there is inequality in the name of caste, the biggest and most difficult thing is to access education," Stalin said at the meeting attended by even the opposition AIADMK.
Abolishing entrance examinations makes higher education accessible to the poor and those with rural background, he argued.
NEET deprived those sections of the right to education and the State is opposed to NEET as it is an impediment to the educational development of Tamil Nadu students. "How can we accept the two-hour exam called NEET after plus two? Isn’t this social injustice? How many can afford to spend a huge sum for NEET coaching?" the Chief Minister asked.
He explained the circumstances prompting him to ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi to exempt TN from NEET, and recalled that the Assembly resolution seeking exemption from the test was passed unanimously on September 13, 2021.
"We forwarded the bill to the Governor to be sent to the President for his assent. But the Governor had not sent the bill to the President,” he said and added that he had to meet the Governor in person and insist the bill be sent.
"This is a situation where the State’s rights and the legislative power is under question that we have urgently convened this all-party meeting," Stalin informed.
NEET favoured those students who have access to coaching and it created the impression that the 12 years of schooling is of no use for admission to medical courses besides it renders the education system meaningless. "It not only shatters the dreams of the students but also destroys the principle of federalism," the resolution further said.
"Not sending this bill to the President is considered unbefitting to the sovereignty of the legislature," the resolution said and mentioned about the efforts of the Chief Minister calling on the Governor to urge him to send the bill for Presidential assent. The Union Home Minister’s refusal to meet the all-party delegation is against democratic norms, the resolution said and added that the delegation would meet the Union Home Minister if an audience is given.
Senior legal experts will be consulted for necessary legal measures to completely abolish the NEET system which is shattering the higher education dreams of poor and rural students and disrupting the principle of State autonomy. Hence, it was resolved that all political parties would work in unison and make all necessary efforts to ensure a consensus so that other States in the country can realise the disadvantages of NEET, the resolution said.
"Nearly 12 out of 13 political party leaders who participated in the meeting resolved to meet the Union Home Minister on demanding exemption from NEET and also to consult legal experts on how to proceed with the legal battle," Health and Family Welfare Minister Ma Subramanian said emerging from the meeting.
The all-party delegation has planned to meet the Governor again to seek the nod for the Tamil Nadu Assembly Bill, he told reporters.
Demanding a white paper on the status of admission of poor students to medical colleges and fee structure in and capitation demanded by the medical colleges before NEET came into existence, BJP Mahila Morcha national president and Coimbatore South legislator Vanathi Srinivasan said the DMK and other parties gave a picture that the BJP government at the Centre had introduced NEET.
"It was introduced by the Congress-led UPA government in which the DMK was a constituent. The BJP does not agree with the NEET exemption resolution," she said after staging a walkout from the meeting.
She claimed that 69 per cent reservation being followed in Tamil Nadu ensured social justice and the allegation that NEET was discriminatory does not hold water. PTI JSP BN BN
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