Under fire from the Opposition on the UPSC row, Government on Wednesday decided to convene an all-party meeting on the issue while indicating its unwillingness to postpone the civil services preliminary examination scheduled for August 24.
The matter, which has disrupted parliamentary proceedings during the past week, rocked the Rajya Sabha again on Wednesday with members from CPI-M, CPI, SP and BSP staging a walkout expressing dissatisfaction over Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Prakash Javadekar’s statement on the issue.
Maintaining that it was a sensitive issue, which has many aspects, the minister said a discussion is needed to determine on whether a major reform of the examination pattern of the UPSC is required.
Referring to the demands of some Opposition members and a suggestion given to him by Ramgopal Yadav (SP) in this regard, Javadekar said, “An all-party meeting will definitely take place. If there is need, more such meetings can take place.”
Noting that nine lakh students are appearing for the August 24 preliminary test of the UPSC, the minister urged the members, “Let us give our best wishes to all those, who are taking the August 24 exam.”
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Reacting sharply to the suggestion by the minister, Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said the views of all the parties have already come in the House and asked why does the government not take a decision on that basis rather than calling an all-party meeting.
Members from the CPI-M including P Rajeeve wanted to know the “status quo” asking whether the statement given by the Minister of DoPT Jitender Singh earlier on the issue now remains valid after Javadekar’s remarks.
“What is the status quo? Is it incorporative of the UPSC notification,” Rajeeve asked.
Deputy Chairman P J Kurien tried to pacify the members saying, “The minister has not said that the statement is invalid.”
“Do not apply delaying tactics. Government should say what is the status quo…this is not satisfactory. That is why we are staging a walk out,” Yechury said before joining members of SP, BSP and CPI in the walkout.
Javadekar said the government took two decisions in the matter showing its sensitivity to the issue and “there are still many more questions” like “how relevant is the CSAT” exam pattern and in what language the exams including interviews should be held.
He said that perhaps there was never such a comprehensive debate on the UPSC exam pattern in the past insisting that “this debate is needed” on whether there is need for some change.
The issued was raised in the House soon after Question Hour was over as members from Congress, Left, SP, BSP and Trinamool Congress stood up slamming the government over its reply on the issue on Monday.
Minister of State Personnel Jitendra Singh had said, “Government is of the opinion that in the Civil Services Preliminary examination Paper-II, marks of the question section on ‘English Language comprehension skills’ should not be included for gradation or merit”.
“Candidates, who appeared in Civil Services Examination 2011, may be given one more attempt in 2015,” he had said.
Slamming the government, Pramod Tiwari (Cong) said these suggestions will add fuel to fire and alleged that government did it “deliberately” to divert the attention from the “internal fight within the government” and the problems of the country.
Satish Chandra Mishra (BSP) said the formula suggested by the DoPT Minister has “further complicated” the matter. “A decision is not taken in this manner,” he said.
Mishra also castigated Congress on the issue reminding that the CSAT pattern of UPSC exams had begun in 2011 when they were in power.
Derek O’Brien (TMC) said the government has come with a “knee-jerk reaction in a hurry” which has further compounded the problem.