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Punjab CM asks Oppn-ruled states to challenge NEET, JEE exams

With just days to go for the NEET and JEE exams being conducted amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday

Captain Amarinder Singh

Captain Amarinder Singh

IANS Chandigarh
With just days to go for the NEET and JEE exams being conducted amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday asked Advocate General Atul Nanda to coordinate with his counterparts in other Opposition-ruled states for filing a collective review petition in the Supreme Court, seeking a deferment.
The directive followed a virtual meeting convened by Congress President Sonia Gandhi with Chief Ministers of seven opposition-ruled states to discuss this and other issues of common concern, including delay in GST compensation release and the farm Ordinances.
There was no time to seek time from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the issue of exams deferment, said Amarinder Singh in response to a suggestion to this effect.
"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.
With exams being held online around the world, he suggested that the JEE and 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.
Amarinder Singh also disclosed that his government would be setting up a committee soon to assess the impact of the new education policy on the state's education system and finances, adding that every state has its own system, which the Centre failed to take into account before announcing the policy.
Citing that as of now, two days before the scheduled Vidhan Sabha session, 23 ministers and MLAs were Covid positive, Amarinder Singh said if this was the state of the legislators and ministers, one can only imagine how grave the situation on the ground was.
The scenario was not conducive to holding physical examinations, he said.
The Chief Minister told the meeting that even on the issue of the mandatory final term exams for colleges and universities, despite repeated pleas and reminders, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had failed to take cognisance of his government's concerns.
"How can we have exams with Covid projected to peak in the state in September?" he asked, adding, "I also want students to take exams and pass too, but how can I do this in the midst of the crisis?"
Amarinder Singh also raised the issue of the Centre's decision to suspend the post-matric scholarship scheme for the Scheduled Caste students, whose number in the state is a whopping 3.17 lakh.
"Given the acute fiscal crisis in the state, with no money even to pay salaries and fulfil other existing commitments, how do they expect us to pay for these scholarships too," he asked.
Noting that what the states were seeking was only their own dues, the Chief Minister also suggested that a delegation of all the Opposition-ruled Chief Ministers should meet the Prime Minister to press for release of GST compensation and financial assistance to fight Covid.
"We have given all the powers of taxation to him through the GST, and now they say they may not be able to pay. So how do we run our states?" he said, calling upon the Opposition-ruled states to work together and fight together for their rights.
Elaborating on the financial crisis faced by the state, the Chief Minister said the Centre's failure to release GST compensation after March 31, which is to the tune of nearly Rs 7,000 crore, had put Punjab in a difficult situation amid the spiralling Covid cases, which had crossed 44,000, with 1,178 deaths.
"If the government of India does not give us our GST compensation how do they expect us to function," said Amarinder Singh, adding states cannot manage on their own and the Centre needs to support.
Earlier, in her introductory remarks, Sonia Gandhi pointed to the concerns already raised by Amarinder Singh on the "anti-farmer" and "anti-federal" agriculture ordinances.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Aug 26 2020 | 7:00 PM IST

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