NEW DELHI: Among the surprising promises made by the Congress in its manifesto was the scrapping of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) - the single entrance exam for admission to medical colleges in India.
For, NEET was introduced in 2013 under UPA II’s watch, despite stiff resistance from many states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu and some private medical colleges.
One theory was that the Congress promise was meant to support ally DMK, which has made NEET a poll card.
While the Supreme Court quashed the 2013 NEET, it was restored in 2016 following another SC judgment. However, all planning related to NEET happened during the UPA regime between 2009 and 2011.
C V Birmanandham, the former Medical Council of India vice-president, who was instrumental in drafting the NEET syllabus, said he was “shocked” with the Congress’ position.
“This test was introduced to reform medical education. It is clearly a desperate move by the Congress to please its allies in the South and garner some votes,” Birmanandham said.
Amit Gupta, a teacher in Kota, Rajasthan, who has been behind many petitions related to NEET in the Supreme Court, also called the Congress promise retrograde.
“NEET in its present form might have some flaws but scrapping it altogether will only help politicians running private medical colleges and will be detrimental to medical education as a whole,” he said.
“The NEET examination is discriminatory against students from certain states. In addition, it interferes with the state government’s right to admit students domiciled in the state to medical colleges in that state,” the Congress party’s manifesto read.
“Hence, we will take measures to dispense with the NEET and substitute it with it a state level examination of equivalent standard, approved by the competent authority for admission to medical colleges in that state,” it stated.