Hitting out at the DMK over the issue, AIADMK general secretary K Palaniswami said NEET came into existence when the UPA was ruling the country. File photo

TN: Hunger strike big drama, says EPS as Stalin vows to scrap NEET

The ruling DMK on Sunday held a day-long hunger strike seeking abolition of NEET

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The DMK and AIADMK on Sunday (August 20) sparred over the National Entrance-cum-Eligibility Test (NEET) with the latter accusing the MK Stalin-led party of staging a “drama” on the issue even though the entrance examination was implemented by the DMK government itself.

The DMK on the other hand dared the AIADMK to join it in a protest outside the Prime Minister's residence in New Delhi.

The DMK was a key constituent of the UPA coalition.

On Sunday, the ruling DMK held a day-long hunger strike seeking abolition of NEET, even as its president and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin said the demand was not political in nature but was being sought by all those who seek "social, equitable education."

Stalin assured all efforts will be taken to ensure NEET exemption for the state, as his son and cabinet minister Udhayanidhi led the party's state-wide hunger strike demanding the abolition of the test.

Stalin assured that NEET will be abolished in Tamil Nadu if the INDIA coalition wins the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

The DMK will not stop till Tamil Nadu gets exemption from the central qualifying test for medical courses, Stalin said, while the opposition BJP slammed the ruling party in the state for "politicising" NEET.

Udhayanidhi said the party won't stop with Sunday’s agitation and that it would even stage a protest in Delhi over the issue. Stalin also took a swipe at Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi, who recently said that he would never sign in favour of the state's anti-NEET bill. The chief minister said now that the matter is with the president, the governor's job is only that of a "postman" who has to pass on to Rashtrapati Bhavan matters taken up by the state Assembly.

The ruling party's hunger strike was held throughout the state except in Madurai where the AIADMK held a massive state conference.

In the temple city, the NEET strike will be held on August 23.

The DMK is opposed to NEET, saying it is against social justice, insisting it favours the urban students and those having access to coaching centres. The party is also generally opposed to entrance exams for professional courses.

The DMK's Youth Wing, Students Wing and Doctors Wing were leading the strike on Sunday. The hunger strike is being held in the wake of another suicide of an aspirant last week.

Don’t fool students on NEET: Palaniswami

Hitting out at the DMK over the issue, AIADMK general secretary K Palaniswami said NEET came into existence following a Medical Council of India notification in 2010 when the UPA was ruling the country.

“DMK staging a day-long hunger strike on Sunday seeking its abolition was a drama, he said. Addressing a massive state conference of the party at Madurai, he asked Stalin and his son Udhayanidhi – to not "fool" students on NEET.

The Medical Council of India had in 2010 issued a notification regarding NEET, the AIADMK leader said. He said the Congress was at the ruling saddle at the Centre then, referring to the national party-led UPA government. Former Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad was the Union Health Minister while DMK's S Gandhiselvan was his junior, Palaniswami said.

"NEET came into existence then only. It is on record, can't be concealed. This was concealed (by the DMK). NEET was brought by Congress and DMK," he said.

“Today's fast (by Udhayanidhi) is a big drama. Ahead of the 2021 (Assembly) elections, Stalin said the first signature if DMK would be voted to power will be regarding scrapping NEET, which Udhayandhi echoed. They are in their third year (of governance) now. What have you done?" the former chief minister asked.

“Udhayanidhi, Stalin, don't fool students. NEET was brought by DMK, but the AIADMK tried to resist it. There is huge disappointment against the DMK government among the people. (So, the fast) is a drama. They had brought it and now they want it to be scrapped," he said targeting the ruling party.

The Tamil Nadu Assembly – both during the previous AIADMK regime and the present DMK rule – had adopted resolutions against NEET. Presently, the anti-NEET bill is with President Droupadi Murmu for her assent. Despite repeated pleas, the Centre has not heeded Tamil Nadu’s request against NEET, Duraimurugan said.

Meanwhile, BJP state president K Annamalai accused the ruling DMK of "politicising" NEET.

"NEET is a non-issue but the DMK has turned it into an emotional subject which has now led to the suicides of students," he alleged.

“No other state in the country has seen such deaths related to the entrance test, he said. "They (DMK) are making politics out of this," Annamalai told reporters.

(With inputs from agencies)

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