August 26, 2020
Let NEET and JEE be postponed until condition becomes conducive: Mamata Banerjee
The chief ministers of six non-BJP governments, led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Sonia Gandhi, came together today – Wednesday, August 26 – to exchange views and set up the future course of action regarding exhorting the Centre to postpone the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), the all-India entrance examinations for admission to medical and engineering institutes, in view of the pandemic and related restrictions on movements.
The other important issue that was discussed was finding out ways to defend and strengthen the federal structure of the country, something the BJP-led Central government has been determined to undermine.
Mamata Banerjee has already written two letters on the issue of postponing the entrance examinations to the Prime Minister.
Today’s meeting was a virtual one. It was attended by Mamata Banerjee, Sonia Gandhi, Amarinder Singh of Punjab, Hemant Soren of Jharkhand, Bhupesh Baghel of Chhattisgarh, V Narayanasamy of Puducherry and Uddhav Thackeray of Maharashtra.
Highlights of Mamata Banerjee’s comments at the meeting:
My request to all the State governments is that let us come together and appeal to the Supreme Court to postpone the dates of the two entrance examinations until the situation in the country is conducive for holding such countrywide examinations.’
The pandemic has endangered the future of our students. Many of them are suffering from depression. Transportation is still not normal in the country because of the COVID-19 situation. In such a situation, how will students be able to travel to exam centres? I have sent a letter to the Prime Minister, asking him to postpone the exams, but haven’t got any reply yet.
The Centre should request the Supreme Court to allow postponement of the exams as many students are suffering from depression. Else we would have to come forward. We in the States are also elected governments. We can together move the Supreme Court, asking it to keep the exams on hold till the situation is better. I am asking all chief ministers to come forward on this issue.
The Prime Minister had alternatives. He could have asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision. I have never seen such an attack on democracy. The situation is extremely serious. We would have to take the risk. The future of students is at stake. Let us together approach the Supreme Court. At the same time, let is start a mass movement as well. We should follow Gandhi ji’s ideals. We should do sit-in demonstrations at Gandhi statues across the country.
We are giving up the money we are collecting as taxes to the Centre. Yet we are not getting our portion of it back from the Centre. Bengal gets Rs 4,100 crore in April-June quarter, as per the rules of the GST law. The cost of fighting COVID-19 is huge. Where would we get the money from? The Centre is giving half its due to the States under the various Central schemes that we are implementing. Yet whenever we are trying to speak up in favour of the people we are being shut up.
I have never seen such a terrible situation before. There is no freedom to express opinion. The rights of the media have also been snatched away. They are deciding what the media can say and what it can’t. Money is being spent to try to stop us from protesting. Fake news is being spread all around. Let them arrest me if they want for saying all these things. I am not afraid.