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Govt vague on UPSC test row

New Delhi, July 30: The Centre today remained evasive as leaders across parties in the Rajya Sabha sought to know the progress in sorting out the civil services aptitude test (CSAT) controversy.

“The matter is pending for the last three years. It will be sorted out very soon,” said Prakash Javadekar, the junior parliamentary affairs minister.

But Opposition leaders insisted on a timeframe to sort out the matter. Deputy chairman P.J. Kurien said: “I cannot ask the government to give a timeframe.”

Even as he declined to specify a timeframe, Javadekar said: “The government is sensitive to the problem. We are taking prompt action. The House will be informed soon.”

The matter was raised by Janata Dal (United) leader, Sharad Yadav, during zero hour. He said civil service aspirants were worried as the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) had not deferred the preliminary test scheduled for August 24.

Jitendra Singh, the minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pensions, had said last Friday that the Centre would take a call on the demand for revision of the CSAT after an expert panel gave its report within a week.

Yadav demanded to know how matters stood as the one-week deadline ends tomorrow. “A lot of students are meeting me everyday. They are in a dilemma. The Centre must clarify when they are going to sort out the issue,” he said.

Leaders from the Congress, Samajwadi Party, BSP, CPI, CPM and Trinamul are supporting Yadav.

The indefinite hunger strike of the UPSC aspirants entered the eighth day today in the Mukherjee Nagar area in north Delhi. Sunil Kumar Singh, an aspirant, said the students were gradually losing faith in the government’s assurance.

“The test is discriminatory. The government has set up a committee under court direction. That committee is not submitting the report. When the government is being asked about the issue, it is hiding behind the committee. We are not sure if the government is serious about the issue,” Singh said.

The aspirants are opposing the CSAT in the preliminary test on the ground that it gives undue advantage to candidates educated in English-medium schools, particularly those preparing for admission into management institutions.

They are demanding going back to the earlier preliminary test format or making CSAT a minimum qualifying paper and deciding the merit list on the basis of the general studies paper.

Vikash Kumar, another aspirant, said: “We have no option but to continue the protest.”