As a war of words between the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the BJP over the JEE and NEET examinations intensified further, the TMC leaders feel that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s aggressive stand for the postponement of the entrance examinations amid the Covid pandemic has given a spring in the party’s feet.
Trinankur Bhattacharya, the state president of Trinamool Congress’s student wing TMCP, said Mamata Banerjee’s speech at the outfit’s event on Friday was a “hit”. “Within an hour of the speech, there were 8 lakh ‘likes’ and 3.5 lakh reactions. It was shared 70-80,000 times on different platforms. Such a huge reaction is possible only in the case of Mamata Banerjee,” he said.
In the speech, Mamata had hit out at the BJP and the Central government for being “adamant and arrogant” over holding the entrance examinations and putting students’ lives at risk.
“She is eager to turn the corner by taking this fight to the BJP’s door. We hope that this will make us stronger ahead of the do-or-die Assembly polls in 2021,” said a TMC leader.
Another TMC leader said Mamata’s forte lies in connecting with people by hitting the road.
“One may recollect that after the Lok Sabha polls when BJP won 18 seats, the TMC was on the backfoot. But, the NPR-NRC issue helped Banerjee come back to the limelight. She hit the road and this energised the cadre. Similarly, the JEE-NEET issue will help rejuvenate TMC workers,” the leader said.
The perception about the Chief Minister that she is more aggressive and flexible has further been vindicated after her vociferous objection to the JEE-NEET examinations, party leaders said, adding that she has emerged as the face of anti-JEE and NEET protests against the Central government.
Meanwhile, Education Minister and secretary-general of TMC, Partha Chatterjee, launched a fresh salvo on the BJP government at the Centre and asked Union Education Minister RP Nishak if he could ensure the safety of 30 lakh students. “Amid this global pandemic, @DrRPNishank can you guarantee safety of nearly 30 lakh students who have registered for JEE and NEET exams? With the transport system still not fully operational, why do you want to jeopardise their future so desperately? Immediately postpone the exams!” he tweeted.
In retort, senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya in Siliguri claimed that 90 per cent of the applicants from West Bengal are willing to sit for the NEET and the JEE examinations and accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of “ruining” their future.
“Even though other non-BJP ruled states are demanding the deferment of the exams, they have also made necessary arrangements for conducting them. The West Bengal government, however, has not made any such arrangement and is opposing the conduct of the examinations just for the sake of it. It is playing with the future of the students,” Vijayvargiya, the BJP’s national general secretary, told reporters at Bagdogra airport near Siliguri.
He also alleged that the chief minister was leading the state to the path of political violence ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls.
“People of West Bengal believe in democracy, while Mamata Banerjee believes in violence. If we come to power, political violence will end,” Vijayvargiya, who is the BJP’s central observer for West Bengal, said.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh also piled on the attack on the Chief Minister and said, “Many students have already registered their names for the exams. If this year the exams does not happen, the next year, double the number of students will sit in the exams. However, the seats for engineering and MBBS will remain the same. So, without doing politics, Mamata Banerjee should understand this.”
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar also waded into the debate and tweeted on Friday, “Students are our future. It’s a matter of global competitiveness. It cannot be in a political whirlpool. Silent majority of students do not seek to risk their prospects and capsize their future. A thought-provoking input – an eye-opener @MamataOfficial.”
With PTI Inputs
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