Hyderabad: The Nalgonda MP and president of Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC), Capt. N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, accused the BJP government at the Centre and the TRS government in the state of playing with the lives of lakhs of students by conducting examinations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Reddy, along with other senior leaders, including former PCC president Ponnala Lakshmaiah, Hyderabad city Congress president M. Anjan Kumar Yadav, TPCC vice-president Dr. Mallu Ravi, general secretaries Bollu Kishan and Adam Santosh, TPCC minorities department chairman Shaik Abdullah Sohail, Nampally in-charge Feroz Khan, and others held a protest at Gandhi Bhavan on 28 August demanding postponement of the Joint Entrance Examinations (JEE) and National Eligibility-cum-entrance Test (NEET). As per the directions of the All India Congress Committee (AICC), the Congress leaders wanted to hold a dharna before the offices of the Central government. However, they were prevented from doing so by the police which deployed a large number of forces at the gates of Gandhi Bhavan, the TPCC headquarters at Nampally.
Mr. Reddy called the Central government's decision to conduct JEE and NEET exams amid the pandemic insane. He said COVID-19 cases were at their peak in almost all the states and pointed out that India has recorded the world's highest spike of 77,266 positive cases in a single day on Friday. Similarly, Telangana has been reporting nearly 3,000 cases every day in the past week, he said.
Even as the country is reporting community-level transmission, Prime Minister Narender Modi's government wants to put the lives of nearly 25 lakh students and their families at stake by conducting the JEE and NEET exams, the Congress leader said. Similarly, by silently accepting the decision taken by the Modi government, Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao was risking the lives of nearly 1.20 lakh students who have registered for the exams, he alleged.
The MP said that the Central government should postpone the exams to a later date. He said there was nothing more important than the lives of the students. “The Modi government did not act on time to contain COVID-19 despite the fact that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had warned about it on 16 February. When the situation started deteriorating, it imposed an unplanned lockdown after 22 March and extended it multiple times till 1 June. PM Modi lacks foresight and the ability to sense a possible threat. Can PM Modi and CM KCR guarantee that none of the students who are appearing for JEE and NEET and their family members would be infected with the virus?” he asked.
Mr. Reddy continued, “Today they are making tall claims of framing stringent guidelines to conduct the exams. But tomorrow, they will blame the students and their parents if anything goes wrong. They never acted in an accountable manner and they will continue to do so in the future."
The TPCC chief said that the candidates would face difficulties in reaching the examination centres and returning home in the absence of public transport. “The BJP government is trying to ruin the lives of students on the pretext of saving their academic year. The heavens will not fall if exams are postponed for another one or two months till the COVID-19 situation is under control," he said, adding the Congress would continue its agitation until the government postpones the JEE and NEET exams to a later date.