'Anti-Kerala bias': Congress, CPI(M) MPs slam DU prof's 'mark jihad' comment

Meanwhile, officials of Delhi University have refuted allegations of favouritism towards any state boards.
Shashi Tharoor and John Brittas
Shashi Tharoor and John Brittas
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Kerala MPs belonging to the ruling CPI(M) and the opposition Congress slammed a Delhi University professor's "mark jihad" comment against the state education board, terming it "ridiculous" and sought condemnation by the Union government on Thursday, October 7.

Raising yet another Islamophobic bogey, professor Rakesh Kumar Pandey of Kirori Mal College in New Delhi and a leader of the RSS-backed teachers organisation National Democratic Teachers Front, said that Kerala students are ‘over-admitted’ in Delhi University as the Kerala state board gives many students 100% marks. "For last few years, Kerala board is implementing - #MarksJihad,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor described it as "ridiculous". Responding to remarks by Rakesh Kumar Pandey, Tharoor said, "This anti-Kerala bias must end now!" "The use of "jihad" as a synonym for any trend you don't like is exceeding all limits: now a DU teacher has got attention by absurdly decrying #MarksJihad!," Tharoor tweeted, sharing the link of a news report carrying Pandey's controversial remarks.

"I've always decried the over-reliance on marks as the main criterion for DU admission, but this is ridiculous. If ‘Jihad’ means a struggle (with yourself above all), the Kerala students scoring 100% have struggled against the odds to get to DU. Interview them first if you wish before letting them in, but don't demonise their marks! This anti-Kerala bias must end now!" Tharoor said, pointing to DU’s admissions being based on Class 12 marks alone.

CPI(M) Rajya Sabha member John Brittas shot off a letter to Union Minister for Education Dharmendra Pradhan urging him to take disciplinary and legal actions against Pandey for his "highly deplorable, defamatory and communal remarks". In his letter to Pradhan, Brittas said at no stretch of imagination, those comments can be considered as accidental but are intended to defame Kerala and to create polarisation in the society. "In these circumstances, I request your good self to initiate urgent steps for ensuring exemplary punishment against the delinquent professor, both penal actions as well as departmental actions," John Brittas wrote.

He also urged the Union Minister to issue a strong condemnation by the Education Ministry against Pandey's comment. Over 100 admissions of students of the Kerala board were put on hold by the Delhi University (DU) over confusion related to their marksheets, but the matter was resolved after officials contacted the Kerala education board, sources had said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Delhi University officials refuted the allegations of favouritism to state boards amid protest by ABVP.  "Being a Central university, the University of Delhi equally and uniformly values the academic credentials of all the candidates irrespective of their states and school boards. This year too, equal opportunity was maintained by accepting applications based on merit only," Registrar Vikas Gupta said in a statement.

"The University of Delhi strongly refutes and condemns the falsity of news which is being circulated regarding favouring candidates from a few boards. Being a prestigious Central University with a long legacy of quality teaching and research, candidates across the country aspire to study in our colleges / departments / centres. It is our utmost responsibility to maintain justice and equity to all meritorious candidates coming not only from Indian States but also from abroad," Gupta said.

In the first cut-off list, 60,904 candidates have applied to various colleges, according to data shared by the registrar. Out of these, 46,054 were from the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the rest from all other boards across the country. By the end of Thursday, 31,172 candidates from CBSE, 2,365 from Kerala Board of Higher Secondary Education, 1,540 from Board of School Education Haryana, 1,429 from Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations and 1,301 from Board of Secondary Education Rajasthan in addition to other state boards have successfully secured their admissions, he said.

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