The DMK came to power on an election promise that “once it assumes power, Tamil Nadu is sure to get permanent exemption from NEET”. Once it ascended the throne, understood the ‘reality’ and changed it to “we’ll try as much as possible and continue the legal battle”.
Initially, many believed that NEET would somehow be cancelled by the DMK. But NEET and the legal battle continue together and are not yet over. It is true that the DMK is waging the legal battle aggressively when compared to ADMK. But this alone will not be enough to cancel NEET. We are not saying this; it is the experience of legal struggle that teaches us this lesson!
The Modi government announced that NEET would be held as scheduled in September last year. Health Minister M. Subramanian announced that NEET coaching would be held as usual for government school students. When criticized for DMK’s promise on cancellation of NEET, he asked, “Did we promise that NEET would be cancelled in 24 hours?”.
On the other hand, a committee headed by Justice A. K. Rajan to review the impact of NEET submitted its report to the Government of Tamil Nadu. NEET exam and submission of Justice A. K. Rajan committee report took place at the same time.
Passing just a Bill against NEET like the previous ADMK regime would not be enough for defeating NEET. Learning from that experience, the DMK had constituted a review committee before passing the Bill.
Later, Dhanush, a student from Salem district, committed suicide due to fear of examination even before appearing for NEET. In the face of the turmoil of the people of Tamil Nadu against NEET, the NEET Exemption Bill (The Tamil Nadu Admission to Undergraduate Medical Degree Courses Bill) was passed in the Assembly next day with the support of all parties excluding BJP.
Subsequently, on October 1 (2021), Stalin wrote to the Chief Ministers of 12 states including West Bengal, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi attaching the Justice A.K. Rajan committee saying that NEET would deprive social justice.
Meanwhile, protests began against Governor R. N. Ravi, who had kept the NEET Exemption Bill passed by the Assembly for months without sending it to the President.
It’s been more than 4 months. But till date the Bill has not reached the President’s office. Also the Bill has not been returned to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly. Stalin met the Governor in person and urged him to send the NEET Exemption Bill to the President for approval once on October 13 and another on November 27. But nothing moved.
As happened in the last regime, at the day of the exam and the days that followed, the news is full of suicide by students. The NEET exam usually faces stiff opposition in Tamil Nadu every year. It is noteworthy that the NEET, held in September last year, was held without any major opposition.
Most of the democratic forces that fought against NEET during the ADMK’s Edappadi regime, now ended their duty by just supporting the DMK’s legal battle.
When compared to the AIADMK’s “ritualistic legal battle”, we were possessed by the delusion that the “emotional legal battle” being waged was enough to cancel NEET. Because of this, we could not stop the unjust NEET exam from drinking our students’ blood this time either.
With the NEET exam went over “well”, all party members, led by DMK Parliamentary party leader T. R. Baalu, went to Delhi to meet Amit Shah.
On December 28, they submitted a memorandum to the President’s office and waited at the residence of Home Minister Amit Shah to meet him on December 29, according to a tip-off from Rashtrapati Bhavan. Amit Shah cancelled the meeting at the last moment. He did not allot time for the meeting even after waiting for nearly 10 days; nor was it reported that it was not possible to meet.
Speaking on the issue, T. R. Baalu said, “This approach of Amit Shah is condemnable”. “Refusing to meet people’s representatives is anti-democratic”, said MK Stalin.
It was while these things were going on, the DMK made R. N. Ravi read out their policy statement as “Governor’s speech” on the opening day of the first assembly session of the year on January 5. In his speech R.N. Ravi says, “The government is determined that NEET is not needed for Tamil Nadu”. Pro-DMK media and social media activists exaggerated the “ritualistic” Governor’s address, as if the TN Governor had been subjugated by the DMK and praised, “Did you see, how powerful DMK is!!”
In the same assembly session, VCK walked out ignoring the Governor’s speech, saying that delaying the NEET bill without sending it to the President was an insult to the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu and condemned the governor’s anti-Tamil Nadu attitude.
On the same day, representatives of seven parties from Tamil Nadu were waiting in Delhi for seven days to meet Home Minister Amit Shah for the third time. Addressing a press conference on that day, T. R. Baalu said, “The Governor who does not respect the Constitution should step down.”
Next, the DMK again convened an all-party meeting on January 8, to put further pressure on the Governor. A resolution was passed condemning the Governor for not sending the NEET Exemption Bill to the President and also condemning Amit Shah for continuously refusing to meet the Tamil Nadu MPs. And when talking about cancellation of the NEET, they concluded the resolution by saying that, “The legal battle will continue”.
Here we have to consider one thing. Justice A.K. Rajan Committee report on impact of NEET; Anti-NEET Bill; All Party Meeting Resolution; meeting the Governor and the President in person and urging them – These were fierce legal battles being fought in different ways. Does this legal battle story continue to go on like a serial ?
“We will consult experts on the methods of legal battle and take a further decision”, says Minister M. Subramanian. What can we achieve by waging a legal battle against the fascists who do not even respect the law atleast in par with a toilet paper. So far, 13 students have been killed during this legal battle path. How many more people are we going to sacrifice along the path of legal battle? What are we going to do now? Where is the Tamil Nadu which erupted when Anita died?
The legal efforts of the DMK were being continuously blocked and insulted by Amit Shah and the fascist brigade spy R. N. Ravi. It is not just an insult to the DMK alone. It is a disgrace to the people of Tamil Nadu and the sovereignty of Tamil Nadu. The fact that we will continue only the path of legal battle implies that we will carry further these indignities with us.
The DMK has even tried to fight these legal battles because of the pressure of parties in their alliance like CPI, CPM, VCK, TVK; the mindset of the people of Tamilnadu opposing th NEET till today; and the continuous student suicides during examinations.
But even this situation cannot be expected to continue like this. As far as the DMK is concerned, everything is subject to driving its rule without any problem.
Like NEET, the DMK had initially shouted, “We will reject the New Education Policy”. But later, School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi said, “Let’s accept the good aspects of the NEP”.
“We will reject the eight lane highway”, the DMK said, and when Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari was angry that the Tamil Nadu government was not cooperating with the highway projects, the DMK government replied, “Come on, we will cooperate”. In Paliyapattu village of Tiruvannamalai district, people are driven out and the DMK government is desperate to bring about ‘development’ through SIPCOT.
Therefore, the progressive-democratic forces in Tamil Nadu should give up pushing the DMK on the path of legal battle and take up the field struggle. Protests should be along the paths of Jallikattu, Thoothukudi and Delhi Chalo. That’s what makes Tamil Nadu special!