Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Saturday, February 5, accused Governor RN Ravi of not doing his Constitutional duty of immediately forwarding the state's anti-NEET Bill to the Union government for getting Presidential assent. Led by Stalin, a meeting of parties that have representation in the State Assembly unanimously resolved to send again the Bill to bypass the national test in Tamil Nadu to Governor Ravi to get approval from the President. Both the AIADMK and BJP did not take part in the meeting.
In a tweet, Stalin said that Tamil Nadu would for sure emerge victorious in its war against the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test by taking on its 'foes' and 'betrayers.' NEET is just one manifestation of several efforts aimed at 'closing' the doors of education opened up to the oppressed people following a century of struggle, he said.
The meeting, chaired by Stalin at the Secretariat, unanimously passed a resolution to convene a special sitting of the Assembly and get that Bill adopted again and send it to the Governor to forward it to the Union government to get Presidential assent. Hours after the resolution, Assembly Secretary K Srinivasan said in an official release that the Assembly's special meeting for the purpose would be on February 8 at 10 AM.
In his address, Stalin said the Governor should have immediately forwarded the Bill to the President to get his assent. However, the Governor did not do his Constitutional duty, the Chief Minister alleged. Hence, Stalin said he visited Ravi on November 27, 2021 and urged him to send the Bill to the Union government.
நூற்றாண்டுகாலப் போராட்டத்தின் காரணமாக ஒடுக்கப்பட்ட மக்களுக்குத் திறக்கப்பட்ட கல்விக் கதவுகளை மூடுவதற்கான அத்தனை முயற்சிகளும் வெவ்வேறும் வடிவங்களில் வருகின்றன. அதில் நீட் தேர்வும் ஒன்று.— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) February 5, 2022
எதிரிகளையும் துரோகிகளையும் எதிர்கொண்டு #NEET-க்கு எதிரான போரில் தமிழ்நாடு நிச்சயம் வெல்லும்! pic.twitter.com/PvqqvJkzO4
Stalin said a Supreme Court judgment that upheld NEET was cited by Raj Bhavan in a press note on return of the Bill to the government. "That judgment is different and the Tamil Nadu Assembly's powers to enact law is different. That is why we are seeking the approval of the President to this Bill," he said.
On February 1, the Governor had returned the Bill to the Assembly Speaker M Appavu for reconsideration by the House. It was passed in the Assembly on September 13, 2021.
Subsequently, Stalin announced a meeting of all parties in the Assembly to discuss the future course of action. Ravi had opined that the Bill was "against interests of students specially the rural and economically poor students of the state."
The Chief Minister said that the Bill to exempt NEET, passed by the Assembly, conveyed the sentiments of about 8 crore Tamil Nadu people. It is related both to the powers of the state legislature to legislate on this matter and the House's sovereignty, he said, adding, the Governor had put the Bill on hold for 142 days.
The meeting was convened to deliberate on the 'extraordinary circumstances' following the Governor returning the Bill to the House, 'before the President could take a decision,' the Chief Minister said. Stalin appealed to representatives of parties to extend their support to the government in its efforts to secure social justice by getting the test scrapped.
The main opposition AIADMK, which did not take part in the meeting, however declared its full support to all legal initiatives aimed at getting the test scrapped in Tamil Nadu.
The BJP, which had demanded that Stalin release the Governor's 'explanatory letter' for returning the Bill to the government, also did not take part in the parties' meeting. Among the political parties in Tamil Nadu, only the saffron party favoured the test.
The ruling DMK and its allies, the Congress, CPI, CPI-M, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, Kongunadu Makkal Desiya Katchi, Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi (TVK) and Manithaneya Makkal Katchi participated in the meeting. Also, the Pattali Makkal Katchi which was in the AIADMK camp ahead of the 2021 Assembly election took part in the meeting and supported the government. All the parties reaffirmed their support to the government to get the test cancelled in Tamil Nadu.
A protest demonstration was meanwhile held by the TVK urging the Union government to recall Governor Ravi. Led by TVK chief Velmurugan, the protesters opposed Raj Bhavan returning the anti-NEET Bill.
The resolution adopted in the meeting referred to the Governor's view that the Bill went against the interests of rural and poor students and said that legal experts and those holding a neutral position have conveyed that such a stand 'is not correct.' Also, the people of Tamil Nadu would never accept Ravi's opinion that exemption from NEET is not needed, it said.
It also said that NEET has adversely affected students from poor and middle class backgrounds and usurped the rights of state governments to admit students to state run medical colleges. The test 'wrecked' the necessity of the school education system and favoured only students who could afford special coaching, the resolution noted.
People of Tamil Nadu are united in the view that admissions to medical colleges should be based on Class XII score and bearing this in mind and to establish the rights of the state government the anti-NEET Bill was passed last year, it said.
Steps taken in the recent past like giving a representation to President Ram Nath Kovind, Stalin urging Ravi to forward the Bill to the Union government to get Presidential assent, MPs requesting Union Home Minister Amit Shah in this regard were also mentioned.
The Raj Bhavan had said that the apex court, in the Christian Medical College, Vellore Association Vs Union of India (2020) had comprehensively examined the issue specially from the social justice perspective. The court upheld NEET as it prevented economic exploitation of poor students and is in furtherance of social justice, the office of the Governor had said.
On AIADMK top leader O Panneerselvam's allegation that there would have been no 'NEET issue' at all had the DMK withdrawn its support to the then Congress-led UPA regime in 2010 when the exam was 'introduced,' the ruling party said that this claim of the opposition party leader was amusing and condemnable since it was a 'lie.'
Only during the UPA regime, the NEET exam was 'eliminated' following a judgment of the Supreme Court in 2013, senior DMK leader and party general secretary Duraimurugan said. People would give a fitting reply to the AIADMK and BJP in the February 19 urban civic polls, he said.
A similar meeting of parties represented in the Assembly (in connection with steps to be taken to get exemption from NEET) was held on January 8, 2022.
After a gap of nearly 2 years, the Assembly would meet again at the Assembly hall in the Secretariat. It was in March 2020, when the AIADMK was in power, that the Assembly proceedings were last held in the sprawling British era Fort St George campus, which also houses the Secretariat among other buildings. In view of the pandemic, the Assembly proceedings were held at 'Kalaivanar Arangam', a government auditorium in Chennai.