Chennai, September 15: Under pressure from the opposition parties, including the DMK, on the NEET issue in the state, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Tuesday sought to turn the tables on his party's arch rival, accusing it of "thrusting" the test on students while being part of the UPA.
The issue, which has generated a lot of political heat in the state after the death of four medical aspirants last week --three of them in a day, echoed in the Tamil Nadu Assembly today, even resulting in the eviction of Congress MLAs after they protested the mention of party veteran P Chidambaram's wife's name in connection with a case related to NEET.
Accusing the DMK of being responsible for introducing the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test when it shared power with the Congress during the UPA rule, Palaniswami said the DMK committed "a historical blunder" in "thrusting" the exam upon the nation.
Responding to a special call attention motion moved by the leader of the opposition in the Assembly, M K Stalin, he recalled that due to late chief minister J Jayalalithaa's efforts, the Supreme Court quashed introduction of the NEET for admission to medical and dental courses at the UG and PG levels.
But, the UPA dispensation then sought a review and this led to the conduct of the exam, the chief minister said.
"Who is responsible for NEET in 2010 and who went to the court after the apex court quashed the introduction of the exam. It is DMK, which is also responsible for the death of 13 aspirants in the state," Palaniswami charged.
The NEET has become a sensitive issue in the state, following the death of 13 people by suicide since 2017, prompting calls for the scrapping of the national level test.
As many as four MBBS aspirants from Madurai, Ariyalur, Dharmapuri and Namakkal districts allegedly took their lives last week.
Meanwhile, blaming the AIADMK for not exerting pressure on the Centre over the NEET issue, Stalin invoked late chief minister C N Annadurai on the his birth anniversary today, and said the ruling party has compromised on two key ideals of the Dravidian leader viz. two-language formula and state autonomy.
Questioning the Centre's 'silence' over the resolutions passed in the state assembly against NEET, the DMK president said in the Assembly that the House should pass a resolution condemning the central government regarding its stance on NEET.
Countering Stalin's claim that DMK never allowed NEET in Tamil Nadu when it was in power, Health Minister Dr C Vijaya Baskar said it was disheartening that the opposition party was playing politics on NEET, confusing students and parents.
"Unlike you, we are firm on our stand since the time of our leader, Jayalalithaa. You claimed that you can cancel NEET within eight months (apparently after winning the 2021 Assembly polls). Please tell us how it is possible and we are willing to do it," he said.
When Stalin said the state government should act with the same determination that it had done on the Jallikattu row, the minister shot back saying, the bull-taming sport pertained to Tamil Nadu's culture whereas NEET concerned all the states in the country. Moreover, the exam had legal sanctity.
Earlier, an AIADMK legislator's mention of Chidambaram's wife prompted the Congress legislators to rise up in protest against the remarks.
Radhapuram constituency MLA I S Inbadurai's remark that the Congress had thrust NEET upon the country with DMK's support, and a reference to Chidambaram's wife appearing for students supporting the exam in a case, incensed the Congress members and they started protesting.
As they declined to return to their seats despite his appeal, Speaker P Dhanapal ordered their eviction from the House.
Later, the assembly passed a Bill, moved by the chief minister, seeking to provide 7.5 per cent reservation for government school students in medical and dental colleges.