Chennai: It”s almost two years since her suicide for failing in NEET and now Anitha of Ariyalur has become the soul of the UPA campaign in Tamil Nadu, with everyone on the poll podium using her tragedy for whipping the AIADMK-BJP coalition as being insensitive not only to the broken dreams of that poor Dalit girl but also towards the aspirations of lakhs of rural students.
NEET was the prime talking point in all the four poll rallies that Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressed in Tamil Nadu on Friday (April 12). Anitha”s tragedy was his main missile aimed at the BJP-AIADMK coalition. Pointing to the assurance scripted in his poll manifesto that the continuance of NEET would be left to individual states and the Centre would not impose it on the country, Rahul declared, “We will not allow another suicide to happen” due to NEET.
“If you read our manifesto, you”ll find a line in her (Anitha) memory. The line says, “we will not impose NEET on the youngsters of this state.” It seems like a small line in the manifesto but it is actually an expression of the people of Tamil Nadu,” said the Congress chief.
His close aide and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram pushed the blade deeper into the enemy when he tweeted on Saturday, in Tamil, telling the “students and their parents” it has now become easier to decide who they should vote on April 18 since both sides have made their positions clear on NEET.
“There would be no NEET if the Congress forms the Government and NEET will continue if it”s going to be BJP Government”, cautioned PC.
His assertion was made possible by the statement from Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, made at a media conference at the BJP state headquarters Kamalalayam around the same time that Rahul was firing NEET from his hip. Insisting that NEET is here to stay, Goyal had said, “We will try to convince the AIADMK on this”. The BJP senior is in charge of his party”s affairs in Tamil Nadu.
For the AIADMK, which has been pretending until then that NEET is not a poll issue, Goyal”s statement came like a bombshell. Its campaigners tried their best to deflect the attack by harping on other issues. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, AIADMK convener O Panneerselvam and the rest of the robust
speakers went to great lengths praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and insisting he”s the only hope for India if the people must live safe from extremist threat and enjoy development through his many visionary projects.
They, in particular, hailed his efforts in bringing back IAF pilot Abhinandan of Tamil Nadu from Pakistani custody in good health and in such short time.
And of course there have been multitude of other issues for the saffron team to hit back at the DMK-Congress. For instance, Stalin remains the lone advocate of Rahul as PM in the Mahagathbandhan and the leadership question looms large over the rival camp, argue the AIADMK and BJP leaders. Prime Minister Modi used this weapon to good effect at his two poll rallies-at Andipatti and Ramanathapuram-on Saturday, telling the audience that Stalin got no support to his Rahul-as-PM slogan because “everyone there is in the queue to become the PM”.
With all kinds of charges flying between the two main rival campaign platforms, it remains to be seen how NEET as an issue would influence the TN voter on April 18....