June 5, 2018 10:14:35 pm
The alleged suicide by a medical aspirant after failing to clear the NEET exam echoed in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Tuesday with the opposition DMK questioning the stand of the government on the central exam. The death of Prathiba, hailing from Villupuram district in the state, prompted the DMK to question its arch-rival AIADMK on the matter, with Leader of Opposition MK Stalin lamenting the death of another girl, S Anitha, last year, over the NEET issue.
Stalin later led a walkout of his party MLAs, unconvinced over the reply given by Health and Family Welfare Minister C Vijayabaskar on the NEET issue. Asserting the government’s stand on NEET was ‘well-known’, Vijayabaskar recalled the state’s efforts to secure an exemption for Tamil Nadu from the National Entrance-cum-Eligibility Test, even as the Assembly had adopted two resolutions last year in this regard.
He recalled the various representations made to the Central government, including to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the matter. Expressing regret over the death of the Villupuram girl, he however, said the Supreme court order was binding on the state government and listed the state’s efforts to prepare students for such competitive exams.
He said the deceased girl had cleared Class XII exams in 2016-’17 and received admission in a Siddha course but had appeared for this year’s NEET again, but scored less marks, he said. Stalin, who along with ally Congress moved a special call attention on the death of Prathiba, sought to know what was the status of the two resolutions sent to the Centre for the President’s nod seeking exemption for Tamil Nadu from NEET, with the Minister saying the Supreme Court had ruled against the exemption after some students moved the top court over the matter.
He also took a dig at the Congress, saying its leader P Chidambaram’s wife Nalini had argued in favour of the students against exemption, drawing protest from the opposition party. He also accused the previous Congress-led UPA government of “sowing the seeds” for NEET exam, saying DMK was also part of that coalition.
Stalin said Vijayabaskar’s response “is not satisfactory” and announced staging a walkout, with his colleagues in joining him. After some time, the Congress also walked out. Later, School Education Minister KA Sengottaiyan said the government’s efforts in preparing students for competitive exams like NEET have borne results, with more number of aspirants from government and aided schools in Tamil Nadu clearing the medical entrance this year.
Last year, Dalit girl Anitha, hailing from Ariyalur, had committed suicide after scoring low marks in NEET, resulting in widespread political outrage. She had earlier filed a case against NEET in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, actor Rajinikanth said the death of Prathiba was ‘pitiable’ and called for putting an end to such incidents, adding, such deaths should not continue.
Rajinikanth, who has announced his decision to enter politics, expressed grief over the death and conveyed his deep condolences to the bereaved family members. T Velmurugan-led Tamizhaga Vazvurimai Katchi (TVK) expressed concern over the death of both Prathiba and Anitha over the NEET issue. AAP state unit Convenor SAN Vaseegaran demanded that the Palaniswami government step down “taking responsibility for the death of Pratiba and Anita.”
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