At Opposition meet, Mamata Banerjee, Amarinder Singh call for approaching SC for postponing JEE, NEET
The Opposition leaders also discussed issues such as GST compensation at the meeting, which was also attended by Maharashtra CM Thackeray, Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, Puducherry chief minister V Narayansamy and Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel
At a virtual meeting called by Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday, Opposition chief ministers mounted an attack on the Central Government over various issues such as pending GST compensation due to the states, and economic situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the meeting, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh said that all chief minsietrs must together approach the Supreme Court seeking that the Joint Entrance Examination (Main) and the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET-UG) exams be postponed.
The meeting was also attended by Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren, Puducherry chief minister V Narayansamy and Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel.
Last week, the Supreme Court refused to entertain a plea seeking postponement of JEE (Main) and NEET, saying that “life cannot be stopped” and the “career of students cannot be put in jeopardy”.
Amid a growing chorus of voices opposing the NEET and JEE (Main) exams due to the current coronavirus situation in the country, the NTA on Tuesday said that the crucial entrance exams will be held as per schedule in September.
While the JEE (Main) is scheduled from 1-6 September, the NEET exam is slated to be held on 13 September
Banerjee, Singh suggest approaching SC for postponing exams
In the meeting, Banerjee accused the Centre of bulldozing state governments “in the name of co-operative federalism”.
“We are fighting the battle,” she said.
Banerjee also urged all chief ministers to together move the Supreme Court for postponing the NEET and JEE(Mains) exams
"Why should the lives of students be put at risk? This will be my request to all state governments, let us do it together, let us go to the Supreme Court and postpone the exam for the time being until and unless the situation allows students to sit for exams,” she said.
Banerjee said that she had written to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi several times but had not received any response.
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh backed her demand, stating that the exams are threatening the lives of lakhs of students.
"Let us all get together to move the Supreme Court for postponement of the exams, which are threatening the lives of lakhs of students," he said.
He also suggested that the JEE-NEET and other professional exams like medical and law could also be held online and there was no need to put the students at risk.
Puducherry chief minister V Narayanswamy said that holding the exams as planned would lead to a rise in the COVID-19 cases in the country. "Who will be responsible?" he asked.
Thackeray also opposed conducting examinations at a time when the " Coronavirus pandemic is rising".
Have not received GST compensation, claim CMs
The Opposition leaders also discussed other issues such as GST compensation and the economic situation due to the pandemic.
Gandhi said the "refusal" by the Centre to pay GST compensation to the states is nothing short of a betrayal of the trust of the people of India.
"In the meeting of Standing Committee of Finance on 11 August, the finance secretary stated the Centre is not in a position to pay mandatory GST compensation of 14 percent for the current fiscal year, This is nothing short of a betrayal by the Modi government," she reportedly said.
Banerjee claimed that the West Bengal government was yet to get Rs 53,000 crore from the Centre, while Gehlot said that the Centre is yet to release GST compensation of nearly Rs 6,990 crore to his state.
Gehlot also said that the situation was worsening and said that all chief ministers should collectively approach the prime minister.
"The economic package announced by the Centre is loan based. Situation of states is continuously failing; revenue collection has come down to 40 percent; and there is no subsidy or grant from the Centre," PTI quoted him as saying.
"States are surrounded with challenges from all sides but the Centre is only bothered about toppling state governments," Gehlot alleged.
Amarinder Singh said that Punjab may face deficit of Rs 25,000 crore this year due to COVID-19 .
EIA draft deeply undemocratic, says Sonia Gandhi
During the meeting, Gandhi also slammed the new National Education Policy (NEP) and the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) legislation announced by the Centre.
"The NEP is a setback for progressive, secular and scientific values and reveals insensitivity to what the states have been saying. Problems of students and examinations are being dealt with very uncaringly," she said.
The NEP, which proposes sweeping reforms such as establishing a single regulator and multiple entry and exit points in degree courses, was approved by the Union Cabinet last month.
Gandhi also termed the Draft EIA as "deeply anti-democratic".
"Laws meant to protect the environment, livelihoods and public health are being weakened," she said, noting that the auction of coal mines has also been objected to by some chief ministers.
Banerjee also said that the Centre was bulldozing state governments “in the name of co-operative federalism”. Soren said the ruling party was using agencies against the Opposition and undermining federal structure.
Thackeray asserted that “all powers are now getting concentrated in one hand”, Uddhav Thackeray said, "We should decide whether we have to fight or fear the Central Government."
Gandhi called for more such meetings of like-minded parties in the larger interest of the country and the public's good and backed Thackeray and Banerjee's call for a united fight against the Centre.
With inputs from PTI
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