TN Governor reignites NEET debate, says he will never clear state govt’s anti-NEET bill

Chennai:Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi on Saturday categorically asserted he will never clear the state government’s anti-NEET bill, even as it is now awaiting the President’s assent, drawing strong response from the ruling DMK and its ally CPI.

The man who posed a question to the Governor at an interaction at the Raj Bhavan over the matter said TN has been against NEET for the last five to six years and students were struggling to cope with it.

In his interaction with top NEET scorers in UG-2023, held as part of the ‘Dare to Think Series’, Ravi said achievements without the National Entrance-cum-Eligibility Test (NEET) were not enough for the future. The qualifying test is here to stay, he asserted.

“Look, I will be the last man to give clearance; never, ever. I do not want my children to feel intellectually disabled. I want our children to compete and be the best. They have proved it,” he said.

His categorical statement came in response to a parent, who sought for the Governor’s “clearance to ban NEET,” an obvious reference to his assent to the TN Assembly bills seeking exemption for the state from the ambit of the central exam.

“I am telling you very frankly, I will never give clearance to NEET (bill). Let it be very clear. Anyway, it has gone to the President because it is a subject of Concurrent List, it is a subject which only the President is competent to give clearance to,” Ravi added.

A myth was being propagated that only those utilising the services of coaching centres could clear the medical entrance test, he said, even as he asserted that CBSE syllabus was the “standard.” “Whatever is there in the CBSE book, nothing beyond is needed. Many students, I have seen cleared it, cleared it well without going to coaching institutions. The book they have prescribed — the CBSE book, that is a standard. If the standard is lower than that, don’t blame that standard. Try to raise the standard,” he said.

CBSE standard is a “very good syllabus and NEET is not beyond that”, Ravi added.

“Let there not be any confusion, NEET is going to stay in the country. I want my children to be competitive, to be the best in the country,” he added.

The state Assembly had last year once again adopted a Bill seeking exemption for Tamil Nadu from NEET, after the Governor returned it earlier.

In a separate tweet, the Raj Bhavan said: “Governor Ravi said the success story of NEET achievers will inspire others and dispel the artificially created fear against NEET in our State in his address at the NEET achievers felicitation function at Raj Bhavan’s Bharathiar Mandapam.” Tamil Nadu has been staunchly opposed to NEET, with both the previous AIADMK government and the incumbent ruling DMK adopting Assembly bills seeking exemption for the state from its ambit.

NEET also has emotional undertones in the state as a number of medical aspirants have allegedly died by suicide, either due to a failure to crack the exam or over apprehensions of not being able to clear it.

Ammasiyappan Ramasamy, who posed the question to Ravi at the interaction, told reporters that TN has been against NEET.

He pointed out at the alleged NEET-related suicides in the state and asked if the students had to really put in 15 hours daily to prepare for and clear the entrance test. He claimed parents spend a lot on coaching.

DMK Students Wing leader and party spokesperson, R Rajiv Gandhi, responded strongly to Ravi’s statement, slamming his “arrogant” attitude.

“News reports will come in another 10 months saying that former Governor R N Ravi opined (on some issue),” he said in a tweet, indicating the Governor would be changed post-2024 Lok Sabha polls.

“Let your arrogance continue till then,” he said.

DMK ally CPI also lashed out at Ravi over the NEET issue. The party said Ravi’s “arrogant” statement, which did not conform to democratic norms, amounted to “intimidating parents.” To stop such activities of the Governor, there was a pressing need for democratic forces to join hands and take forward a struggle, it said in a statement.

Rather than going by the advice of the Assembly, Cabinet and the Chief Minister, he was behaving in an “authoritarian” way, the CPI added.

The Governor has in the past also come under intense criticism from the ruling DMK-led bloc and many other quarters for returning the Assembly bills to the government.

NEET is one of the issues that has been a bone of contention between the Raj Bhavan and the Tamil Nadu government.