Opposition's All-Out Attack On Centre Amid Nationwide NEET Protests

Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has said there is no evidence of paper leak and claims of corruption in NTA are unfounded.

Students are holding protests across the country against alleged irregularities in NEET

New Delhi:

Opposition leaders have targeted the Centre over the massive row surrounding the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) -- an all-India examination for admission to medical courses -- that has triggered protests by aspirants in several parts of the country.

The DMK, which has been opposing NEET ever since it was introduced, has slammed the National Testing Agency for destroying the exam's sanctity and said the Centre was a nothing more than a "spectator" and backing coaching centres. The Congress has questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "silence" and demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe.

Results for the medical entrance examination, which was taken by 24 lakh students on May 5, were declared on June 4, when counting of votes for the 2024 Lok Sabha election was held. In the aftermath of the results, allegations of paper leak surfaced. As many as 67 students scored the perfect score of 720/720. The cut-off has gone up exponentially, leaving many wondering if they would get a medical college seat at all.

Another issue that has come under the scanner is the award of grace marks to several students to compensate for loss of time at the exam centre. The protesting students allege this is responsible for the inflated marks. The matter is before the Supreme Court, and the Centre has told the court that it had cancelled the grace marks given to 1,563 candidates. They now have the option to take a re-test or forgo the grace marks. But a section of students has said this is not enough and the exam must be repeated for all students.  

Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has said there is no evidence of paper leak and claims of corruption in NTA are unfounded. "All the facts related to this are before the Supreme Court and are under consideration. The kind of politics being done on this issue is only an attempt to spread confusion and it affects the mental peace of the students," Mr Pradhan said.

Targeting the Centre over the raging issue, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said grace marks are not the only problem. "There has been rigging, papers have been leaked, and corruption has taken place. The future of 24 lakh students appearing in the NEET examination is at stake due to the actions of the Modi government."

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has said the "scam in NEET" has devastated more than 24 lakh students and their families. The Opposition party's general secretary, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, has said the Education Minister's "arrogant response" ignores the cries of 24 lakh students and their parents.

Other INDIA allies have also joined the protest against the exam. RJD leader and Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly Tejasjwi Yadav said paper leaks are "inevitable" whenever the BJP is in power at the Centre or in the state.

Trinamool leader and Bengal education minister Bratya Basu said the Centre expedites a probe into alleged irregularities in teachers' recruitment in the eastern state. "But it is silent on probing the irregularities in NEET-UG, which affected the future careers of lakhs of aspiring doctors across the country," he said.

Counselling for seats in medical colleges begins on July 6 and the Supreme Court will resume its hearing in the matter on July 8.