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

UGC-NET is a test to determine a candidate's eligibility for the position of assistant professor in Indian universities and colleges, and also for the award of research fellowships

'Education Emergency': NET Scrapped Amid NEET Row, Opposition Gets New Ammo

The UGC NET was conducted on Tuesday and cancelled yesterday

New Delhi:

The cancellation of the UGC-NET examination amid the ongoing protests against the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) has provided fresh ammunition to the Opposition parties to target the Narendra Modi government ahead of the Parliament session.

UGC-NET is a test to determine a candidate's eligibility for the post of assistant professor in universities and colleges, and also for the award of research fellowships. The Education Ministry yesterday ordered that the exam -- held Tuesday -- be scrapped after inputs that its integrity may have been compromised.

This exam too was conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA), which is already under fire for alleged irregularities in NEET. This time, in a shift from practice, NET was conducted in pen and paper mode. Over 11 lakh students had registered for the exam.

Leaders of the INDIA bloc, upbeat over restricting the BJP below the majority mark in these Lok Sabha polls, have joined forces to target the Centre over the mismanagement of key exams.

The Congress described the Narendra Modi-led NDA government as "paper leak government". Party president Mallikarjun Kharge took a swipe at the Prime Minister. "Narendra Modi ji, you discuss exams a lot, but when will you hold 'NEET pareeksha pe charcha'. Cancellation of UGC-NET exam is a victory of the passion of lakhs of students," he said. Targeting Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, he said the minister first said no paper leaked in NEET, but when arrests were made in Bihar, Gujarat and Haryana, he accepted that "some scam" happened. "When will NEET exam be cancelled?" he asked.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi alleged that the government's "corruption and laxity" is harmful for the youth.

"After the news of scam in NEET exam, now the NET exam held on 18th June has also been cancelled due to the fear of irregularities. Will accountability be fixed now? Will the Education Minister take responsibility for this laxity?" she asked in a post in Hindi.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said the "paper mafia" is involved in fraud in every exam under the BJP's regime. "There should be a court-monitored probe and the culprits must get the harshest punishment. No one should be spared," he posted on X.

Rajya Sabha MP and leader of Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) Priyanka Chaturvedi said the repeated failure to conduct national examinations fairly "exposes the NTA's incompetence".

"This is an education emergency and also lets down lakhs of students who diligently prepare for these entrance exams, not to forget the mental pressure they go through," she said. "Cancelling is not the solution, accountability from government and NTA is. This absolute disregard to young students and their careers is unfortunate," she added.

Trinamool Congress MP Saket Gokhale said the examination process of the country has "crashed".

"Paper leaks and irregularities are rampant and the useless NTA is complicit in it. After the NEET fiasco, the UGC-NET has now been cancelled - literally 1 day after students wrote the exam. The lives & futures of our students are being destroyed everyday & the NDA 1.0 govt is shameless to even take responsibility," he said.

The Education ministry yesterday said the UGC had received some inputs from the National Cyber Crime Threat Analytics Unit of the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre. "These inputs prima facie indicate that the integrity of the aforesaid examination may have been compromised," it said.

"To ensure the highest level of transparency and sanctity of the examination process, it has been decided that the UGC-NET June 2024 examination be cancelled. A fresh examination shall be conducted, for which information shall be shared separately," the ministry said, adding that the CBI will probe the matter.

With the new Lok Sabha set to meet for the first time on Monday, the cancellation of UGC-NET along with the ongoing fiasco over NEET is likely to be a big talking point as the BJP tackles a stronger Opposition on the House floor.