The Centre’s decision to conduct the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) twice a year has come under stinging criticism from both the ruling and main opposition party in Tamil Nadu, where the medical exam has been opposed since it was conceptualised. The AIADMK-led government said the NEET should be conducted only once a year, while the opposition DMK accused the Centre of “creating confusion” among students.
NEET, for admission into medical and dental courses, will now be held in February and May and the exam would be conducted by the newly formed National Testing Agency, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar announced on Saturday. Claiming that students could not appear for NEET twice in the same year as a “six-month period will be short”, School Education Minister K A Sengottaiyan said the matter would be taken up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“We will take the matter to the notice of the Chief Minister (K Palaniswami) and further take it up with the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and the Union Minister concerned,” Sengottaiyan told reporters. While the reaction from AIADMK was subdued, DMK took a more aggressive stance and its working president MK Stalin said the move would shatter the medical education dreams of rural students.
“The proposal to hold NEET online is a conspiracy to make medical education remain out of reach of rural students,” the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly said. Stalin said the Centre’s decision to conduct the test online was without any thought as students from rural areas, especially those from government schools, hardly had computers or knowledge about computers.
“In order to ensure equality, the BJP government at the Centre should immediately withdraw the decision to hold NEET online,” the DMK leader said. Stalin also reminded the Centre of the state’s demand for an exemption from NEET and urged the government to ensure Presidential nod for two Bills on this issue. Tamil Nadu had initially sought permanent exemption from NEET by passing two bills in the Assembly.
NEET has been a sensitive issue in Tamil Nadu, with political parties opposing it right from day one, claiming that it would prevent the rural and poorer students from becoming doctors. From 2006 till last year, admissions to medical courses across Tamil Nadu were held on the basis of Class 12 marks alone.
(With PTI inputs)
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