AIADMK, DMK in war of words over NEET in TN Assembly

The ruling AIADMK and principal opposition DMK on Wednesday accused each other over the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) in the Assembly and the government said it has filed a fresh plea in the Supreme Court challenging the examination.

As soon as the question hour ended, Leader of Opposition M K Stalin said NEET went against the tenets of social justice and the interests of rural students and accused the ruling dispensation of "huge betrayal" on the issue. He sought to know about the state filing a plea against the test in the Apex Court just two days before the last date (6 Jan 2020) to apply for NEET ended.

Health Minister C Vijayabaskar retorted saying if at all it was a betrayal, the seeds for it was sowed by the DMK when it was part of the Congress-led Centre. On 27 December 2010, the notification for the test was issued by the Union government, he said. Only after the notification, the national test took shape and the opposition to it also had to be fought in the Madras High Court and later it went as far as the Supreme Court, he noted. Also, bills were passed by the Assembly seeking to exempt Tamil Nadu from the test, he added.

The Minister said the government was taking legal steps and also handles the matter politically to oppose the test. Asserting that the government continued to be firm in its policy of opposition to NEET, he said, "Now a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging Section 10 (D)of the Indian Medical Council Act. The main petition in the matter was still pending in the top court." The NEET was behind conducted under section 10 (D) and this section was inserted through an amendment to the IMC Act. Tamil Nadu filed the fresh plea after the top court said during the case hearing last month that the State had the freedom to challenge this provision, the Minister pointed out.

He also wanted the opposition to specify if this move of the government was "right or not." DMK deputy leader Duraimurugan countered asking what the government intended to achieve by filling the fresh plea. Stalin said till such time former Chief Ministers, M Karunanidhi (2006-11) and J Jayalalithaa (2011-16) held the reigns of power, NEET was not held in Tamil Nadu. Also, the matter was taken up legally to oppose the test and order against the test was pronounced by the court, the DMK leader said. When Congress legislature party leader K R Ramasamy raised the same issue, the Minister said Tamil Nadu was the only state so far to oppose the IMC Act's provision governing NEET in the Supreme Court. Though Congress party had come out against the test in its Lok Sabha election manifesto, no other State (seen as a reference to Congress party ruled States) has so far approached the court against the NEET provision, he added.

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