Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding reservation for students from other backward classes (OBC) in state medical colleges under the All India Quota of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) - the country's sole entrance exam for undergraduate medical and dental students. She said OBC students have lost 11,000 seats since 2017 due to the denial of reservation.
"I would like to bring to your attention, denial of reservation for OBC candidates under All-India Quota being filled through National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), in State/UT Medical education institutions," she wrote in the letter.
"Under the All India Quota, 15%, 7.5% and 10% seats are reserved for SC (scheduled caste), ST (scheduled tribes) and Economically Weaker Section candidates respectively, in both Central and State/UT Medical education institutions. However, reservation for OBC candidates under All India Quota is restricted to Central Institutions," she added.
Mrs Gandhi said the denial of reservation to OBC students in state medical institutions is a barrier to access of medical education for deserving candidates.
"In the interest of equity and social justice, I strongly urge the Union Government to extend reservation for OBC candidates in All India Quota of medical and dental seats, even in the State/UT Medical education institutions".
The All India Quota seats comprise 15 per cent of all MBBS seats and 50 per cent of PG medical seats surrendered by state governments to the Centre. Students from all across the country can apply for the reservation.
Replying to litigation by political parties from Tamil Nadu, the Centra last month informed the Madras High Court that it was unlikely to admit Other Backward Classes (OBC) students under All India Quota in all government institutions unless the Supreme Court comprehensively settles the pending issue.
The NEET exam, scheduled to be held in May, was deferred because of the coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide lockdown. It is rescheduled for later this month. There have been calls to further defer the test amid a steady growth in coronavirus numbers across the country.
Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank on Thursday said that a committee consisting of the Director-General National Testing Agency (NTA) and other experts will give its recommendations to the ministry by Friday following requests to postpone JEE and NEET exams.