DMK President and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Sunday assured all efforts to ensure NEET exemption for the state, as his son and cabinet minister Udhayanidhi led the party's state-wide hunger strike demanding the abolition of the test.
The DMK will not stop till Tamil Nadu gets exemption from the central qualifying test, Stalin said, while the opposition BJP slammed the ruling party in the state for "politicising" NEET.
The CM's remarks at a wedding coincided with his party's agitation seeking to do away with the National Entrance-cum-Eligibility Test (NEET).
Stalin also took a swipe at Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi, who recently said that he would never sign in favour of the state's anti-NEET bill. The CM said now that the matter is with the President, the Governor's job is only that of a "postman" who has to pass on to Rashtrapati Bhavan matters taken up by the state Assembly.
The ruling party's hunger strike was held throughout the state except in Madurai where the AIADMK is holding a massive state conference today. In the temple city, the NEET strike will be held on August 23.
At the protest venue at Valluvar Kottam here, DMK youth wing chief Udhayanidhi was joined by senior leaders and cabinet ministers Duraimurugan, Ma Subramanian and P K Sekar Babu, party MPs including Dayanidhi Maran, MLAs and Chennai Mayor Priya R.
On display on the stage was a collage of medical aspirants who died by suicide over NEET, including S Anita of Ariyalur, and floral tributes were paid to them.
The DMK's Youth Wing, Students Wing and Doctors Wing were leading the strike on Sunday. Even newlywed couples joined the protest carrying anti-NEET banners.
The hunger strike is being held in the wake of another suicide of an aspirant last week.
In his address at the wedding, Stalin reiterated that his party has been opposing NEET ever since it was introduced. NEET was implemented across the country based on a Supreme Court ruling in 2016.
The earlier bill adopted by the Assembly during the AIADMK regime was returned and the then the ruling party did not reveal it even when Assembly was on, he said. That bill subsequently lapsed, Stalin said, adding that his party, ahead of the 2021 elections promised to wholeheartedly strive for a NEET ban.
The bill seeking exemption for TN was adopted twice after the DMK came to power and was "finally sent for Presidential assent after much struggle." He alleged that Ravi kept the bill at Raj Bhavan and sent it to the President only after the government strongly pressed for it.
"The President should decide on the bill on the basis of the Centre's advice. Only the President has the power, not the Governor; he only has the job of a postman. he has to send what we sent," he said, referring to Ravi's recent remarks at an interaction that he would never give assent to the state's anti-NEET bill if it were up to him.
"This struggle will continue, DMK won't stop till NEET exemption is ensured. Whether or not in power, this movement is one that works for the people," the CM added.
Speaking at the protest venue here, state Minister Duraimurugan said NEET goes against the welfare of students and that the DMK has been opposing it for long.
The state assembly -- both during the previous AIADMK regime and the present DMK rule -- had adopted resolutions against NEET. Presently, the anti-NEET bill is with the President for her assent.
Despite repeated pleas, the Centre has not heeded TN's request against NEET, Duraimurugan said.
Meanwhile, BJP state president K Annamalai accused the ruling DMK of "politicising" NEET.
"NEET is a non-issue but the DMK has turned it into an emotional subject which has now led to the suicides of students," he alleged.
No other state in the country has seen such deaths, he said.
"They (DMK) are making politics out of this," Annamalai told reporters.
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