Opposition ups the ante on NEET, Education minister Pradhan faces sloganeering in Parliament

Allegations of paper leaks and irregularities involving the National Testing Agency (NTA) are expected to dominate this Lok Sabha session.
 Union Minister of Education Dharmendra Pradhan takes oath as a Member of the 18th Lok Sabha during its First Session, at the new Parliament building, in New Delhi on Monday.
Union Minister of Education Dharmendra Pradhan takes oath as a Member of the 18th Lok Sabha during its First Session, at the new Parliament building, in New Delhi on Monday.Photo | ANI

NEW DELHI: The echoes of protests over NEET-UG and UGC-NET irregularities reached Parliament on the opening day of the 18th Lok Sabha as Opposition leaders raised slogans of “NEET” and “shame” when Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan took the oath as a member of the Lok Sabha on Monday.

Allegations of paper leaks and irregularities involving the National Testing Agency (NTA) are expected to dominate this Lok Sabha session.

Though the government has removed the NTA chief and appointed an expert committee to review the situation, the opposition has demanded that the minister be held accountable.

The probe into NEET-UG irregularities and paper leak allegations has been handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Attacking the government, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav said that the BJP gets exam papers leaked to "please" its supporters. “This is nothing new. This is an old tactic of the BJP. If you see history, the BJP gets exam papers leaked to please its people. This was a huge issue in UP and now it has reached Delhi. They have cheated crores of people,” he told the media.

 Union Minister of Education Dharmendra Pradhan takes oath as a Member of the 18th Lok Sabha during its First Session, at the new Parliament building, in New Delhi on Monday.
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Echoing this view, DMK MP Kanimozhi reiterated the party's demand to exempt Tamil Nadu from NEET. “Tamil Nadu has always been saying that we don’t want NEET and wanted to be exempted from it. Today it is very clear that this exam is not really fair. Tamil Nadu has always said that we don’t want it and now the whole country is saying this.”

Calling it an educational emergency, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Priyanka Chaturvedi said, “PM Modi has reminded us of the time of emergency, what about the education emergency of today? The youth are asking about the cancellation of exams, paper leaks, and CBI inquiries in the exams, and there is no accountability of the PM or Education Minister. The youth are on the verge of losing their job and one precious year. The Prime Minister should talk about the crucial issues facing the nation.”

 Union Minister of Education Dharmendra Pradhan takes oath as a Member of the 18th Lok Sabha during its First Session, at the new Parliament building, in New Delhi on Monday.
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NC leader Farooq Abdullah stated that conducting a NEET-UG retest, if required, would be an improbable proposition. “This is a crime committed on students. They qualified for the exams by studying, not buying papers. Now they are put through trouble again. Wherever they feel something wrong has happened, they can conduct the retest, but a retest all over the country is not an easy job,” he said.

The alleged paper leaks have sparked nationwide outrage, with students and political parties demanding the scrapping of the NTA.

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi has promised students that his party will raise the issue in Parliament.

 Union Minister of Education Dharmendra Pradhan takes oath as a Member of the 18th Lok Sabha during its First Session, at the new Parliament building, in New Delhi on Monday.
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