Chennai: A war of words has erupted in the state’s political scene even as the DMK geared up to hold a agitation in front of Raj Bhavan on Saturday, protesting against Governor Banwarilal Purohit for holding back the Bill providing for 7.5 per cent reservation to students from government schools in medical college admissions.
Accusing DMK President M K Stalin of indulging in ‘statement politics’, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said the DMK had no right to blame the government of inaction in getting the Governor’s consent for the Bill as it was during the UPA regime, in which Congress and DMK were part of the government, that NEET was introduced in India.
Replying to Stalin’s charge that the State government had covered up the Governor’s contention that he required three to four weeks to look into the merits of the Bill before giving accent, Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said that it was not appropriate for the Ministers to reveal what happened in a closed door meeting.
Speaking to the media at the Chennai Collector’s office after an event, Jayakumar said the government was confident of the Governor giving his nod for the Bill soon and that the DMK need not be organizing the protest in front of Raj Bhavan.
Palaniswami, in a statement, accused the DMK of trying to seek political gain through the issue and explained that the 7.5 per cent reservation for government school students was brought about because the socio-economic background of students in government and private schools were vastly different.
Be it the schools or the home environment or income of parents, private school students were at an advantage and judging all students on the same scale was against equality. It was in view of this fact that he announced the 7.5 per cent reservation in the Assembly under Rule 110 and subsequently passed the Bill in the Assembly to send it to the Governor for approval on September 18.
Before moving the Bill in the Assembly, the government had sought a report from a committee headed by former High Court judge P Kalaiarasan to study the prospects of government school students getting admission in medical courses.
After sending the Bill to the Governor, the government had been following it up periodically, the Chief Minister said. When he went to Raj Bhavan to brief the Governor about the work done on controlling Covid-19 spread along with Ministers, he had taken up the issue and hoped the consent would come soon.
Even on October 20, he personally met the Governor and put pressure on him to give his nod for the Bill when he promised to look into it. He said that DMK had no right to blame the government for not pressurizing the Governor at this moment when the whole exercise was about to yield results.
He said that it was the AIADMK government that increased the total number of medical seats in the State to 1,400 and made efforts to set up new medical colleges with a view to raising the number of seats to 1650.
Referring to the Governor’s reply to Stalin’s letter demanding speedy approval for the Bill, stating that he would require three to four weeks, TNCC president K S Alagiri said that delay in giving assent would have serious repercussions.
Going by the medical college admission pattern based on NEET scores, there was a scope for only eight students from government schools to get admission this year, too, Alagiri said that if the 7.5 per cent reservation came into force over 300 government school students would join medical courses.
It was a tragedy that the Governor would not budge even after the DMK had called for the protest in front of Raj Bhavan, he said that the Governor cannot go against the decision of the Ministers.
Alagiri regretted that he was given to understand that the Governor wanted the government to implement the Central government’s 10 per cent reservation for ‘Economically Weaker Sections’ among the upper castes if they wanted him to approve the 7.5 per cent reservation for government school students.
CPM Politburo member G Ramakrishnan said the Governor should leave the State if he could not follow the Constitution and give his nod for the Bill passed in the State Assembly. He also wondered why the State Minister did not reveal to the people that the Governor had sought three to four weeks’ time to clear the Bill.