In NEET Row In Bihar, BJP, RJD Trade Claims Of 'Link' To Key Accused

The UGC-NET - also conducted by the NTA - has also been scrapped for the year after the Union Education Ministry expressed concerns its integrity may have been compromised.

In NEET Row In Bihar, BJP, RJD Trade Claims Of 'Link' To Key Accused

The NEET-UG exam is for admission to medical undergraduate courses in India (File).


Protests against the NEET exams - over allegations of leaked question papers and preferential marking - have led to a bitter political row, particularly in Bihar, where four men told police the paper was leaked a day before the exam.

The four have been identified as NEET candidate Anurag Yadav, his uncle Sikandar Yadavendu, and two others - Nitish Kumar and Amit Anand. Mr Yadav said his uncle gave him the leaked paper - which "had the same questions (as) in the exam" - a day in advance.  The uncle told the cops Mr Kumar and Mr Anand offered the paper - which sorts students for admission to medical courses - for Rs 32 lakh.

READ | "Got NEET Paper Day Before Exam": Arrested Student Tells Bihar Cops

Bihar Police's Economic Offences Wing is, for now, handling all inquiries, and has recovered post-dated cheques that may have been issued to accused who demanded over Rs 30 lakh from each candidate.

Sources told news agency PTI cops had also recovered mobile phones and fake admit cards.

The accused's claims have triggered a tussle between the Bharatiya Janata Party (part of the government led by the Janata Dal (United)) and the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal. The BJP has claimed a 'connection' between the RJD and Mr Yadavendu, whom cops believe is the key accused in this scam.

The BJP's Vijay Sinha, who is also the Deputy Chief Minister, has claimed Mr Yadavendu is a relative of RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav's aide, Pritam Yadav. He has also claimed links to RJD patriarch Lalu Yadav.

READ | NEET Paper Leak: Bihar Deputy CM Draws Link To Tejashwi Yadav

Mr Sinha has red-flagged reports that say Mr Yadavendu was staying at a guesthouse owned by the NHAI, or National Highways Authority of India, which reports to the centre's Road Transport Ministry.

"Sikandar Yadavendu is a close relative of Tejashwi Yadav's PA Pritam Kumar. NHAI guesthouse was booked for Sikandar's sister, Reena, and her son, Anurag, for May 4. A phone number and a minister's name were mentioned in the diary..."

The RJD, meanwhile, has dismissed this charge as the BJP's attempt to divert attention.

"In Haryana, in a BJP minister's school, six children are in the topper's list! There is uproar over NEET in the whole country and, in such a situation, Union Education Minister should resign (and) NTA should be abolished. But what is being discussed? Who booked the guest house in Bihar?" MP Manoj Jha said.

"Lakhs of children are not a concern (for the BJP)... you (the BJP) are making false stories to save the accused. I want to say this whole story is a conspiracy hatched to defame a government employee... because the big names have to be saved," he told reporters, stressing the focus had to be on "the future of 25 lakh children". "Do not entangle it in the false story of the guest house..." he said.

Apart from allegations of leaked question papers, last week the NTA, or National Testing Agency, a central body that conducts competitive entrance tests, told the Supreme Court grace marks awarded to 1,563 who took the exam will be cancelled. They can now accept old scores or take a re-test June 23.

Concerns over marks erupted after a surprisingly high number of candidates scored 100 per cent, i.e., got 720 on 720. Petitions were filed before the top court seeking redress.

READ | "Even If 0.001% Negligence...": Court Blasts Exam Body In NEET Row

The court ripped into the NTA; "If there's even 0.001 per cent (chance of) negligence on anyone's part, it should be dealt with," it said, warning the agency it expects "timely action".

As many as 24 lakh men and women sat for the NEET exam on May 5.

Apart from Bihar, the row over the NEET has also turned political in other states and at the centre, with the Congress-led INDIA bloc targeting the ruling BJP. 

And the BJP - which edged past the post in the April-May general election thanks to its allies - must now also deal with the UGC-NET exam, a qualifying exam for appointments to professorial posts in colleges and universities, and for fellowships, being cancelled.

READ | "Emergency": NET Scrapped Amid NEET Row, Opposition Gets New Ammo

The UGC-NET is also conducted by the NTA and was scrapped for the year after the Union Education Ministry expressed concerns its integrity may have been compromised.

Over 11 lakh students had registered for this exam.

Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and Mallikarjun Kharge, and Samajwadi Party boss Akhilesh Yadav, the Shiv Sena's Priyanka Chaturvedi, and the Trinamool's Saket Gokhale have all hit out at the BJP on this topic.

All of this comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi - in power thanks to 28 seats won by Bihar's JDU and Andhra Pradesh's TDP - preps for the first parliament session of his new-look coalition government.

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