West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring students on his monthly radio programme ‘Mann ki Baat’ and ask them impromptu questions about their opinion on holding JEE-NEET amid Covid-19 pandemic.
She also announced that final year examinations in state-run colleges and universities will not be held in September because of the pandemic. The chief minister asked the state education minister to announce the dates by next week.
“Bring in students at Mann ki Baat. Don’t stage it. Ask them impromptu questions and not rehearsed questions to find out what they think about holding JEE-NEET during the pandemic. We will accept what they say,” Banerjee said on Friday.
Six opposition-ruled states, including West Bengal, on Friday, filed a review petition in the Supreme Court against its order allowing the central government to hold the NEET and JEE in September. Mamata Banerjee and Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi had jointly convened a meeting of chief ministers of non-Bharatiya Janata Party ruled states on Wednesday to demand the postponement of the JEE-NEET examinations.
On Friday, the apex court upheld a July 6 directive of the University Grants Commission (UG) to hold terminal semester exams in universities and colleges by September 30 but gave states the liberty to defer such exams beyond the September 30 deadline.
“We will not hold the final exams in our colleges and universities in September for sure. The state education minister will discuss the matter and see whether the exams could be held before the Pujas (scheduled in October-end). The dates would be announced by next week,” said Banerjee.
The Trinamool Congress supremo expressed questioned how will the students reach the examination centres for the JEE-NEET exams. She also made it clear that her salvo was not targeted against the Supreme Court and that it was against the centre and the UGC.
The chief minister’ nephew Abhishek Banerjee, who heads the party’s youth wing, also lashed out at the centre over the JEE-NEET issue.
“Before conducting the exams, the centre should give an undertaking that swab tests would be conducted for 30 lakh students appearing for the exam, provide them with insurance cover and that the government will take full responsibility if any student gets infected or if anything happens to them. What happened to digital India? If the USA can hold online exams, why can’t we?” Abhishek Banerjee questioned.
The chief minister led a scathing attack against the BJP on multiple fronts including NRC and CAA.
“The NRC and CAA have been suppressed due to the pandemic. But they (BJP-ruled government) will start it all over again once the pandemic is over.
She also announced that her government would celebrate Students’ Day on August 9 every year.