Former Tamil Nadu Transport Minister and senior DMK leader KN Nehru has caused a stir by stating that if the DMK were in power, it would have allowed aspiring medical students to cheat in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). Speaking at an agitation meet against NEET, KN Nehru reportedly said, “Even if we are not able to secure exemption from NEET, would we not allow students to copy if we were Ministers? We would definitely do.”
Further justifying allowing TN students to cheat, the DMK leader refers to widespread allegations of exam scams in some of the northern states, stating, “Students copy in Bihar and they copy in Madhya Pradesh. Copying is being allowed in these states and you expect only students from Tamil Nadu to be epitome of honesty?”
Nehru also promised that DMK would get an exemption for Tamil Nadu if the party were voted to power.
The remarks have naturally drawn flak from other parties. According a report in the Deccan Chronicle, Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar has said, “Only those who have copied in their examination would make such ridiculous statements. Those people who have come up in life through honest means would never make such statements or remarks. By making this copy statement, Nehru has insulted the youth of Tamil Nadu”
BJP leader CP Radhakrishnan has also stated that statements like this would only add to the confusion prevalent among students and parents over the exams. He also said such an exemption to the exam would never materialise.
The controversial NEET examinations have been a major cause for worry for students in Tamil Nadu as the all-India exams are based on the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). The Tamil Nadu government has in the past made requests to the Centre seeking an exemption for the state. However, there has been no change in the mandatory exam required for entry into MBBS and PG medical seats.
The Tamil Nadu government faced severe backlash for its failure to secure an exemption following the death of Dalit student Anitha last September. Anitha, an aspiring medical student had studied in a state board school and scored 1,176 out of 1,200 in the 12th standard. However, she failed to pass the NEET exam and became the voice against the all-India medical test when she took the fight against it to the Supreme Court impleading herself as a respondent demanding an exemption for Tamil Nadu. But when the apex court ordered the TN government to conduct NEET exams, a dejected and disillusioned Anitha killed herself. Her suicide sparked protests across the state with students and political parties slamming the ruling AIADMK and the Centre for imposing NEET.