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Education takes centre-stage in this week's political drama as 18th Lok Sabha kicks off

Last Updated : 29 June 2024, 05:56 IST

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Soon after the nation witnessed Modi magic with him becoming Prime Minister and BJP-led NDA coming to power in the center for the third consecutive term, education, rather entrance exams, have now taken the center stage in Indian politics.

The NEET paper leak issue has rattled the core of the education system. The much stronger Opposition now has not left any page unturned in blaming the government, more so the Education Ministry for it.

The Parliament session too commenced this week and the episodes of blame-game, debates and war of words continue both in and out of the Lok Sabha.

So, brace yourselves as we dive into all that happened over the course of the week.

The NEET fiasco: Education comes under political radar 

The NEET paper leak scam has now taken political highroads after protests erupting every now and then.

Amid pressure mounting on the government over irregularities in NEET and cancellation, postponement of the UGC-NET and CSIR-UGC-NET exams, the Centre sacked Subodh Kumar Singh who was the chief of the National Testing Agency (NTA) on June 22. He was replaced by Pradip Singh Karola who is a retired Karnataka cadre IAS officer.

The Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, which was passed in Parliament on February 9 and had received the President’s assent on February 12 this year, was notified late night on June 21 and then put to the drafting stage.

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A hard hitting political remark regarding this notification came from none other than Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge. He called  the enforcement of the anti-paper leak law a "whitewash" and said that the Bharatiya Janata Party cannot evade its responsibility in "promoting corruption and education mafia".

The student protests intensified on June 26 where the members of the Congress-affiliated National Students' Union of India (NSU-I) barged into the National Testing Agency (NTA) headquarters situated in south-east Delhi's Okhla, followed by sloganeering and demanding a closure and ban on the NTA.

The Centre has roped in the CBI to further probe into the alleged irregularities in the medical entrance exam NEET-UG and several arrests too have been made in this regard.

Protesting against Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar for not allowing Kharge to raise the NEET issue in the Rajya Sabha, the latter and other Opposition floor leaders entered the Well of the House. Dhankar described it as “ignoble and unruly conduct” leaving the day as “tainted” in the history of Indian Parliament. 

Dharmendra Pradhan, the Union Education Minister, who has said that the government is ready for discussions over the NEET issue in the Parliament, asserted that it has to take place as per tradition and by maintaining decorum.

Another incident amid the raging NEET paper leak controversy has come to light where a UP lawmaker Bedi Ram, who was an MLA of the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP), was caught admitting to leaking papers and taking money for recruitment in government jobs in different states in a video which went viral on social media.

This is not the first time Ram has been embroiled in a paper leak case. In his affidavit for state polls in 2022, he had disclosed that he has eight cases pertaining to paper leak pending against him.

Not only Bedi Ram, but his party leader Om Prakash Rajbhar has also found himself embroiled in a similar controversy over yet another viral video, where he can be heard saying that Ram had the ‘ability’ to secure government jobs for the youth.

Speaker, Sengol, Emergency: The latest takeaways from the Parliament

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BJP leader Om Birla was re-elected the Speaker of the Lok Sabha by defeating Congress’ K Suresh. The election was carried out by a voice vote and the Opposition did not press for a division. Meanwhile Rahul Gandhi was recognised as the Leader of the Opposition by the Speaker and urged Birla that the “voice of the people be heard” inside the House.

President Droupadi Murmu jointly addressed the Houses after the Lok Sabha elections on June 27. In her 50-minute speech, the President spoke about the NEET paper leak issue and said that the government is committed to fair investigation and the culprits shall be strictly punished. She also spoke about the Emergency period and termed it as a “dark” period of Indian democracy. The President further praised the Modi government and stated that in the last 10 years, India has become the fifth largest economy, which is a great jump from being the eleventh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the 49th anniversary of Emergency, did not miss a chance to hit back at Congress, saying that those dark days are a reminder of how the Congress party subverted basic freedoms and trampled over the Indian Constitution. He also stated that those who imposed the Emergency have no right to profess their love for the Constitution.

In another notable case, AIMIM chief and Hyderabad MP, Asaduddin Owaisi ended his oath with 'Jai Palestine', during the oath-taking ceremony in the Lok Sabha, leading to a commotion in the House. In a retaliation to this, a group of five men vandalised Owaisi’s house in Delhi with black ink and pasted posters outside the same, demanding his suspension from the Lok Sabha.

In yet another interesting incident, Samajwadi Party (SP) MP R K Chaudhary questioned the Sengol’s presence in the Parliament. He called it a symbol of monarchy and demanded its removal from the House, thus sparking a huge political controversy and war of words among politicians from across parties.

Political heatwave continues in Delhi

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Off late, the capital city has been relieved from the extreme heatwave conditions as monsoon has set foot in Delhi. Be that as it may, the political grounds in Delhi still remain heated up with their Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal still behind bars. 

A Delhi court on June 26 sent Kejriwal to a 3-day CBI custody after he was  arrested by the agency over a money-laundering case linked to the excise policy "scam", which is currently being probed by the Enforcement Directorate.

Arvind Kejriwal said to the court that he is innocent, along with former deputy CM Manish Sisodia is innocent and their party, and all of this is being done to defame them.

Owing to his arrest, the Aam Aadmi Party boycotted President Droupadi Murmu's address to the joint sitting of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.

Meanwhile, the indefinite hunger strike of Delhi Water Minister Atishi to urge BJP-ruled Haryana to release Delhi's due share of water amid the ongoing water scarcity in the national capital, came to an end after she was hospitalised due to worsening health conditions on June 25. She was discharged after two days.

On the other hand, BJP and Congress MLAs protested in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) House meeting on June 27 over the ongoing water crisis, wherein the opposition councillors rushed into the well of the House and raised slogans against the AAP government.

Political platter all the way from South

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On June 27,  Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was publicly told to step aside by top Vokkaliga pontiff Kumara Chandrashekaranatha Swami, and hand over power to D K Shivakumar, thus causing consternation in the ruling Congress. The very next day another prominent seer from the dominant Veershaiva-Lingayat community, Channasiddharam Swamiji of Srishail Peetham, urged that ministers from his community should be given preference in case there is a change in CM post.

The Kallakurichi hooch tragedy has till now claimed the lives of 60 people. On June 26, AIADMK legislators led by party general secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami and party legislators undertook a day-long hunger strike and demanded a CBI Probe into the incident. 

Tamil Nadu’s Leader of Opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami alleged that DMK functionaries were behind brewing and sale of illicit liquor across the state that took lives of so many and also accused Chief Minister M K Stalin of being silent over the issue, demanding his resignation.

On June 26, a bail plea of former JD(S) MP Prajwal Revanna was rejected by a Bengaluru court. Prajwal Revanna is currently facing charges of rape and sexual harassment in multiple cases and is remanded to judicial custody till July 8, until further developments.

Meanwhile Prajwal Revanna’s brother, Suraj Revanna, a JD(S) MLC, is also facing sexual abuse charges. His custody has been granted to the CID till July 1. Suraj Revanna has been accused by a male JD(S) party worker of sexual abuse.

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Amid the ongoing homicide investigation in which Kannada actor Darshan is under arrest, Maddur Congress lawmaker Udaya K M said that the actor is a good person and it is very unlikely of him to have killed someone. Darshan had campaigned for Udaya during the Assembly polls last year, and also for Congress Maddur in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections.

In a latest development, former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa got a further breather when the Karnataka High Court extended his interim bail in the POCSO case, essentially granting him protection from arrest by the state CID.

In other news...

Former Jharkhand chief minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader Hemant Soren walked out of the Birsa Munda jail in Ranchi on June 28 after the high court granted him bail in money laundering case. Soren also claimed that he was falsely implicated in the case and was forced to spend about five months in jail.

BSP supremo Mayawati had earlier called his nephew Akash Anand  immature and had sacked him as her political heir as well as BSP’s  national coordinator. However in the wake of BSP’s dismal performance at the recent Lok Sabha polls, on June 23,  Mayawati reinstated him as both.

Uddhav Thackeray and Devendra Fadnavis happened to come face-to-face as they encountered each other at the Vidhan Bhavan complex while waiting for a lift. After this, Chandrakant Patil meeting the Shiv Sena (UBT) head triggered speculations about the two former allies realigning in Maharashtra. The speculations were denied both by  Thackeray and Fadnavis. 

Politics in Maharashtra does not cease to surprise as in yet another instance the Congress-led Maha Vikas Aghadi boycotted the customary tea meeting hosted by CM Eknath Shinde on the eve of the monsoon session, which commenced on June 27, and also stated that it would not allow the Citizenship Amendment Act  (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) to be implemented in the state.

Around the world..

Prime Minister Modi met Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina on June 22 and decided to start negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. They also signed pacts for rail connectivity as well as maritime and space cooperation.

Elections in Iran began on June 28 for electing a new president following the death of Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash. The election takes place at a time when tensions in the region are rising as a result of the conflict between Israel and the Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and growing pressure from the West on Iran over its fast-advancing nuclear programme.

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Although there was minimal discussion of foreign policy in the first US presidential debate of the 2024, analysts predict that Joe Biden's shaky performance will have America's allies bracing for the return of Donald Trump. Supporters of Biden had thought the debate would allay concerns about his age, but lawmakers, analysts and investors claimed Trump had benefited from the event

That's all for this week folks! We promise to be back again next week with more political drama and all other major takeaways from India and around the world.

Exit Stage Left,

DH Newsletters Team

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Published 29 June 2024, 05:56 IST

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