Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Centre’s decision to hold national entrance exams for engineering and medical courses in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Gandhi said that the students wanted the prime minister to hold a “pariksha pe charcha” (discussion on exams) instead he did “khilona pe charcha” (discussion on toys).
Gandhi’s comment was in reference to the prime minister’s Mann ki Baat address earlier in the day, where he said that India has the potential of becoming a global manufacturer of toys. Modi said that India’s share was quite small in the global toy industry, which is worth Rs 7 lakh crore. He urged startups to team up with toy production units and invest in the industry.
Gandhi’s remarks are a part of continued opposition from the Congress and other political parties, including the Trinamool Congress, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Samajwadi Party, over holding of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test and Joint Entrance Examination.
On Friday, Congress President Sonia Gandhi appealed to the Centre to listen to students who have raised concerns over holding the national entrance exams. On the same day, six states ruled by Opposition parties – West Bengal, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Punjab and Maharashtra – moved the Supreme Court seeking postponement of the exams. The states had filed a review petition against the Supreme Court judgement earlier this month, which rejected a plea for such postponement.
The Congress had launched a nationwide protest against the conduct of the exams on Friday.
The party had also accused the central government of putting the health of students at risk by forcing them to sit for examinations during a pandemic. However, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal on Thursday claimed that the ministry has received emails from many parents and students in support of conducting the exams in the month of September and not postponing them further. The minister’s statement did not have any supporting figures as to the number of emails that the ministry has received.