Blaming previous UPA government for row over the UPSC issue, BJP on Tuesday said the Narendra Modi government has taken best possible steps it could have under the given circumstances.
For several weeks now, students have been protesting against the introduction of CSAT paper in the civil services exams. (PTI photo)
Stating that there is no confusion on the issue, BJP blamed Congress and some other opposition parties for creating confusion for "political reasons".
"The issue of CSAT is neither the contribution of BJP government nor Narendra Modi. This is the contribution of the previous government led by Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi.
"But Modi government is sensitive and honest. That is why, whatever the problems and challenges were there...to bring about a solution, he (Modi) has started working towards it. In the present circumstances, the best possible way that was possible has been taken," BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters.
He said that the respect for Indian languages has been there earlier, it is there presently and will remain in the future and the BJP government is committed towards it.
"Whatever the government has done till now, we think, agitation should not be done. It gives a wrong message. There is no confusion on the issue. The only confusion is because some of our friends in Congress party and a few other opposition parties are creating it due to political reasons," he told reporters during the sidelines of a seminar on youth's role in corruption-free democracy.
Read: CSAT row: Voices for and against the new pattern
The ongoing row over the UPSC issue escalated on Tuesday with opposition parties disrupting Parliament demanding a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi even as scores of UPSC aspirants continued their protests pressing for scrapping CSAT.
The Opposition made a strong pitch for setting up of a Joint Parliamentary Committee(JPC) to probe the matter, saying it involved the career of lakhs of students.
Naqvi said, "The changes that has taken place in the UPSC examinations should not have happened. The government has given its statement in Parliament."
Naqvi said, "The thinking of some people that those speaking English are eligible and those speaking Indian languages are ignorant, is not right and it is neither for the benefit of the country nor one can justify it."
Earlier on Tuesday, the chaos over the CSAT hit Parliament again as opposition parties continued to demand its complete scrapping from the examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
Samajwadi Party threatened to disrupt the proceedings of the Parliament till CSAT is scraped off entirely from the civil services examination.
Watch video: BJP holds UPA government responsible for UPSC row
SP leader Naresh Agarwal told ANI, "We will give notice to Parliament regarding this issue and we will not let Parliament function until CSAT is scrapped off entirely from the IAS examination."
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) also said the “arrogant” government has not met the demand to remove CSAT and is doing an injustice to students.
"We feel the government is playing with Indian languages, including Hindi. There was a demand in Parliament and also on the road by the students to abolish CSAT. Injustice is being done to the students by not abolishing CSAT. The government is arrogant about the mandate it has got and we will fight this out in Parliament as well as on roads," said RJD MP Jay Prakash Narayan Yadav.
The DMK too was not far behind and demanded that other Indian languages be added in the examination.
Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, however, said that the government had addressed most of the issues but cautioned that it should involve all stakeholders in its decision regarding the CSAT.
"Under the current circumstances, whatever could have been done has been done. But in future all the stake-holders should be taken into confidence before taking any decision," said NCP MP Tariq Anwar.
Congress too had rejected the government's response on the UPSC examination row as "eyewash" and asked it to come up with a "consensus solution" by holding consultations with all stakeholders.
Party spokesperson Randip Surjewala questioned the relevance of the English exam if its marks were not to be included and whether giving one more chance will solve the problem.
Surjewala also asked whether taking a decision just twenty days before the preliminary examination will give students from rural background enough time to prepare.
Changes proposed by govt
The government on Monday said that the marks in English language comprehension skills in the civil service exam aptitude test would not be included in preparing the merit list.
Minister of state in Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh told Rajya Sabha that the exams have been thus made "language neutral".
"Government is of the opinion that in the Civil Services Preliminary examination, Paper II, the marks of the question section on 'English language comprehension skills' should not be included in gradation or merit," the minister said in his statement made in both the houses.
He also announced that candidates who appeared in Civil Services Examination 2011 may be allowed one more attempt in 2015.
"The government has studied the matter very deeply and tried to handle it sensitively," Singh said.
‘Govt cheated us’
The aspirants feel "cheated" by the government's decision to exclude English language comprehension marks from the CSAT paper, while preparing the merit list for the civil services examination.
"We are not satisfied with Singh's speech regarding CSAT. We demand complete scrapping of CSAT. We have decided to continue our fight," said Pawan, an UPSC aspirant who has been leading the protest.
He said this was not what the protesters have been demanding.
"We never asked the BJP-led government to modify CSAT pattern. Instead, our demand is to abolish this test for the welfare of lakhs of students who have studied in Hindi medium," he added.
The students who have been protesting said their demands of scrapping CSAT exam, which was introduced in 2011, and postponing the Aug 24 preliminary exam remain unfulfilled.
"We were assured that the CSAT will be done away with, but the minister's statement talks nothing about it. Instead, they have cheated us by deciding to not consider the marks for English comprehension," said Subhankar Vats, a civil service aspirant from Jharkhand.
Ashish, another aspirant, expressed unhappiness over the government allowing another attempt in 2015 only to those candidates who wrote the exam in 2011.
"The government has said that those who appeared in 2011 would be allowed another attempt next year, but what about us? How will we take exams on Aug 24 when for the last few months we have been on the streets," Ashish said.
"Though CSAT is called an aptitude test, there are only six aptitude questions in it and the maximum questions are from mathematics and reasoning. So that puts students with non-science background at a disadvantage," he said.
The government statement on Monday came following the report by a committee headed by Arvind Verma, which submitted its findings last week.
The civil services examination will be held as per schedule and the UPSC, which conducts the test, will incorporate all the changes announced by the government on Monday in Parliament, official sources said.
The UPSC has started issuing admit cards to the candidates for the August 24 preliminary exam.
The civil services examination is conducted in three stages - preliminary, main and interview - to choose candidates for Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS) among other services.
There are two compulsory papers of 200 marks each in the civil services preliminary examination - General Studies I and General Studies II. General Studies II is widely known as CSAT.
The General Studies II (CSAT) paper carries questions on comprehension, interpersonal skills including communication skills, logical reasoning and analytical ability, decision-making and problem- solving, general mental ability, basic numeracy, and English language comprehension skills of Class 10 level.
(With inputs from PTI, IANS, ANI)