Controversy over NEET and Mekedatu dam project in Karnataka ruffled feathers in Tamil Nadu Assembly on its second day of the three-day session.
Congress MLAs in the Tamil Nadu Assembly were evicted from the session on Tuesday after they disrupted discussions on the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET).
The legislators objected to AIADMK’s stand that the previous Union government led by the Congress and DMK alliance (in the 2009 general elections) was responsible for the introduction of NEET and that former Congress minister P Chidambaram’s wife Nalini Chidambaram had fought in the Supreme Court to bring the examination to Tamil Nadu.
The arguments began after Speaker P Dhanapal called for parties to express their views and opposition to NEET. After DMK chief MK Stalin’s statement over the issue, chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami gave a forceful speech blaming the Congress-DMK alliance, which had come to power in 2009, for the examination itself, which triggered protests from Congress members.
“In 2010, it was your alliance that introduced NEET. You are responsible and the whole country knows this,” the chief minister said. “The DMK is responsible for the death of 13 NEET aspirants,” he added.
The AIADMK members also pointed out that former chief minister J Jayalalithaa had fought against NEET in the Supreme Court while the wife of Congress leader P Chidambaram had fought for it.
The reference to the leader’s wife and advocate Nalini Chidambaram agitated the Congress, which said her individual actions cannot be mentioned and that it must be struck off the record. The Speaker reportedly refused this, which led to the disruption in the Assembly, and the Congress MLAs were eventually evicted.
“The AIADMK said that Congress brought NEET, but at the time, it was optional for all states and they could take a call,” said Congress leader KR Ramasamy after Assembly session. “They are saying Congress purposely brought NEET. When cases were in the Supreme Court, several lawyers, including Nalini Chidambaram, were part of it. But Congress has been against NEET, and Nalini Chidambaram cannot be brought into this. We said that this should not be said but the Speaker did not accept this,” he added.
The debate in the Assembly over NEET happened after the deaths by suicide of three students over the fear of writing the examination and the inability to get seats in medical colleges. All three aspirants who died within a span of three days had spent the year preparing for NEET.
Meanwhile, chief minister Palaniswami said the state government will never allow the Mekedatu dam in Karnataka to be constructed. He was answering a question raised by DMK’s Durai Murugan, who is also the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.
“Karnataka brought it up in the Cauvery Water Management Authority and we opposed it strongly. Then it was removed from the agenda. There is a case against this dam in the Supreme Court. Hence let me categorically state that the government of Tamil Nadu will not allow them to construct Mekedatu dam,” Palaniswami said in the Assembly.