EPS accepts CM Stalin\'s challenge for live debate on NEET

But after the Governor himself shone the light on his returning the Bill two days later, the DMK acted fast to turn the issue on its head

Chennai: NEET, the all-India examination for medical admissions that is already in vogue, is definitely not an ideal subject to be the bone of contention in an urban local body election but it has landed bang on the middle of the hustings, impelling the DMK, AIADMK and BJP to talk about it in their campaigns due to some twists and turns in the State’s politics.

When Governor R N Ravi returned the Bill seeking exemption for the State from NEET to the State Assembly on February 1 after procrastinating for 142 days, the ruling DMK was seemingly shy of making an issue out of it perhaps because they felt that it might be turned against them in the impending elections.

But after the Governor himself shone the light on his returning the Bill two days later, the DMK acted fast to turn the issue on its head. After calling for a special Assembly session to discuss and send back the Bill for Presidential approval on February 8, the DMK found in NEET an opportunity for asserting the State rights.

Yet it did not look like a potent poll plank to fight the principal rival AIADMK as it was anyway supporting the Government move to seek exemption for the State, thus offering little scope for taking a holier than thou attitude. Though the BJP was openly on the other side of the fence, for the ruling party that was not a worthy rival to take on using NEET.

So, when Chief Minister M K Stalin began his daily campaign through video conference to reach out to voters in the districts, he was listing out his government’s achievements since June, 2021, and sought the people’s support to continue the good work.

It was in the counter to the DMK’s campaign that AIADMK head honchos, Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam hurled the charge that many of the election promises given during the Assembly polls had not been honoured by the Stalin government.

They pointed out that the DMK, in its manifesto, had the abolition of NEET as a promise that they had not met so far. In between, the AIADMK leaders also alleged that NEET was introduced during the UPA rule in New Delhi with a DMK representative as Minister of State for Health.

The fight that the State government has launched against the Governor through the resending of the NEET exemption Bill was also brought into the elections’ scheme of things by DMK’s Youth Wing secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin. As he began his campaign tour of the State, he vowed to fight it out till NEET exemption was obtained, thus making it an election plank.

Then the AIADMK started hitting back by reiterating the charge that the DMK was responsible for introducing NEET in the country in the first place, prompting Stalin to blame it all on the AIADMK.

Stalin threw a challenge to Palaniswami on Thursday to prove that the DMK was responsible for the introduction of NEET while addressing voters of Coimbatore district. The Chief Minister invited the Leader of the Opposition for an open debate on who was responsible for NEET – DMK or AIADMK?

Picking up the gauntlet, Palaniswami said at Madurai on Friday that the Chief Minister could choose the place and time for the debate, which could be in the presence of the members of the public and media. The people could be the judge for the debate, he said.

To Stalin’s question if a single NEET examination was held during the DMK regime to prove the point that it was brought by the AIADMK, Palaniswami said that the all-India entrance was introduced in the country only after the DMK demitted office in the State.

Panneerselvam, too, attacked the DMK on NEET, saying that the government was incapable of getting the exemption.

In the final reckoning, an entrance exam for medical college aspirants, which has the open support of the BJP and is being opposed vehemently by the DMK, AIADMK and every other party, has become a talking point on election platforms that should actually discuss local civic issues.

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