NEET UG Row: Opposition launches scathing attack on Centre, NTA, says future of students being destroyed - Hindustan Times

NEET UG Row: Opposition launches scathing attack on Centre, NTA, says future of students being destroyed

PTI | , New Delhi
Jun 20, 2024 11:54 PM IST

A few opposition leaders have also demanded the sacking of Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and the disbanding of the National Testing Agency (NTA).

Opposition leaders on Thursday launched a scathing attack on the government and the National Testing Agency over alleged irregularities in the NEET exam as well as the cancellation of UGC-NET and accused them of destroying the future of students.

NEET UG Row: The opposition has come down heavily on the Centre and the NTA, accused both of destroying the future of students. (PTI Photo/Arun Sharma)
NEET UG Row: The opposition has come down heavily on the Centre and the NTA, accused both of destroying the future of students. (PTI Photo/Arun Sharma)

Some opposition leaders have also demanded the sacking of Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and the disbanding of the National Testing Agency (NTA), claiming paper leak is an "anti-national activity" as it plays with the future of students.

Leading the opposition attack, Rahul Gandhi alleged the main reason for paper leaks is that educational institutions have been "captured" by the BJP and its parent organization RSS, and paper leaks will not stop unless it is reversed.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has facilitated this capture. This (paper leak) is an anti-national activity as it severely harms the country's youth, who are the nation's future and it hurts students," he said.

The former Congress chief also alleged the BJP government at the Centre wants to "expand the "Vyapam model" of Madhya Pradesh.

The scam in Vyapam or Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board broke out in 2013, wherein candidates had bribed officials and rigged exams by deploying imposters to write their answers.

On Wednesday, the University Grants Commission cancelled the UGC-NET examination, a day after it was held, upon receiving certain inputs from the National Cyber Crime Threat Analytics Unit of the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) over the exam.

Amid demands by the opposition to re-conduct NEET, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said isolated incidents of malpractice should not affect lakhs of students who cleared the examination rightfully. He also announced a high-level panel to look into the functioning of the NTA.

Also read: Amid NEET UG Row, Education Minister Pradhan says isolated cases should not affect those who cleared exams rightfully

Taking a dig at PM Modi, Gandhi said, "It was being said that PM Modi stopped the Ukraine-Russia war and the Israel-Gaza war, but he is either not able to stop exam paper leaks or doesn't want to.

"The silence is because the prime minister is crippled. Right now the prime minister's agenda is the Speaker (post). He is not bothered about NEET. He wants his government to scrape through and he gets his Speaker's post. That's where his mind is right now," he said when asked why the government is silent on NEET.

At a press conference, Gandhi said, "The Opposition is simply not going to allow any of this eye wash that is taking place. We will make sure that we put so much pressure on them, that the issue is resolved."

The Congress hit out at PM Modi after the cancellation of the UGC-NET exam, saying every year he conducts a "grand tamasha" of what he calls 'Pareeksha pe Charcha' and yet his government cannot even conduct an examination without leaks and frauds.

Also read: NEET UG 2024 Row: Arrested student says question paper was same as he got a day before exam

Claiming that the integrity of NTA is under severe doubt, party general secretary Jairam Ramesh asked whether the prime minister would speak on this "leak" ("leak pe speak").

Party president Mallikarjun Kharge asked when would the prime minister hold "NEET pareeksha pe charcha".

Trinamool Congress MP Saket Gokhale, in a post on 'X', said, "The examination process structure of our country has crashed. Paper leaks and irregularities are rampant and the useless NTA is complicit in it."

He also referred to the cancellation of the UGC-NET exam and said, "The lives and futures of our students are being destroyed every day and the NDA 1.0 govt is shameless to even take responsibility."

Gokhale also said, "Incompetent education minister Dharmendra Pradhan has been repeated despite being an utter failure. The same is with Ashwini Vaishnaw as railway minister and now we saw a train crash just days ago. They need to be sacked."

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav alleged the "paper mafia" was "rigging exams" under the BJP rule. "This could also be someone's big conspiracy against the country," he charged on 'X'.

While the CPI(M), in a post on X, accused the government of making a mockery of the education system, (RJD) MP Manoj Jha said the NEET exam should also be cancelled.

Also read: NEET UG Row: Bihar EoU top brass in Delhi to submit key evidence, statements of arrested persons, details here

CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas raised concern over questions asked in the UGC-NET exam.

"When NEET to NET collapses... see how saffronisation (is) done; NET qstns (questions) for a Theatre student -- Ayodhya pran pratishtha date, how Hanuman is described, the shloka in Ramayana, beheaded but kept alive in Mahabharata, Hindi exponent. How do we intend to mould our next generation?" he said.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan urged the Centre to take immediate steps to resolve the crisis in the National Testing Agency (NTA), saying its "repeated incompetence" in conducting exams such as NEET and the UGC-NET cannot be accepted.

"The controversy over NEET has barely subsided and now the Ministry of Education has announced the cancellation of UGC-NET, citing compromised exam integrity. This repeated incompetence is unacceptable, leaving students in limbo and wasting public money," he said on 'X'.

Demanding Pradhan's resignation and scrapping of the NTA, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury expressed solidarity with the students "in their struggle to safeguard their academic standards from being destroyed by this ND alliance government led by Modi".

He said the students who appeared for UGC-NET and NEET, must be compensated by the Centre. "Roll back the recently adopted system of mandatory NET score for PhD admissions. Withdraw proposals to replace existing admission procedures with centralized entrance tests," he said.

CPI leader D Raja said, "What's happening under the Ministry of Education is nothing short of criminal."

"They imposed the anti-federal, anti-poor NEET and jeopardized the medical education system of our country, depriving the marginalised of quality medical education. NTA's incompetency in conducting exams got exposed again after the cancellation of UGC-NET after paper leaks," he alleged.

NCP (SP) leader Supriya Sule accused the government of being insensitive towards the issues of farmers, women, and students, and sought the formation of a special investigation team to probe the alleged irregularities in the NEET (UG) and other exams.

She said the NDA government cancelled the UGC-NET exam over integrity and fairness concerns.

"This raises a burning question: Can the NDA government truly ensure fair examinations or will exams be cancelled one after another due to widespread fraud at play? The NDA govt previously claimed no NEET papers were leaked, but the further arrests made by Bihar Police suggest otherwise, yet no action has been taken by the NDA government."

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi slammed the Modi government, saying it was unable to conduct even one exam properly and sought to know what steps it was taking to prevent question paper leaks in the future.

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