Ending six months of suspense over the fate of MBBS/BDS admissions in Tamil Nadu, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday said the Centre would “cooperate” with the State Government to grant a one-time exemption from NEET-based admissions through the ordinance route. The exemption from NEET will be only for admission to government medical colleges and the government quota seats in private medical colleges.
Responding quickly, State Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar said a draft ordinance to allow Tamil Nadu to admit medical aspirants on the basis of their scores in Class XII for “this year” would be submitted to the Central Government for clearance on Monday.
Later on Sunday evening, Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan and two other officials left for New Delhi to complete the paper work for drafting the ordinance. Ms. Sitharaman’s announcement caught the ruling AIADMK off guard as none of the Union Ministers, including those handling the Health and HRD portfolios, had given any assurance on an exemption to senior State Ministers who held numerous meetings of late.
“As far as the private colleges (management quota seats) and deemed universities are concerned, the admission of students is already being done as per NEET. The problem comes only in terms of government medical college admissions and also in terms of seats surrendered by private colleges to the government, i.e., for around 4,000 seats. Students from rural areas are finding it difficult to get admissions through NEET — that is our understanding based on the interaction with the State,” Ms. Sitharaman said.
Since this was a unique situation, the Centre would cooperate to grant exemption from NEET-based admissions if the State government brought an ordinance specifying that it was being done for one year and for the benefit of rural students, the Minister said.
However, she ruled out any exemption beyond one year and said the State needs to prepare its students to face the common entrance test.
Meanwhile, Mr. Vijaya Baskar said the Central government had held consultations to rule out legal wrangles in the event of Tamil Nadu getting an exemption from NEET. The State government would offer a solution for the next year too, to avoid the confusion that has prevailed this year, he said.
State Health Department officials told The Hindu the request for exemption was made as the test was a challenge to the rural students. “The ordinance would be drafted in such a way that it does not hit the concept of NEET itself,” an official said.
In Puducherry, Union Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan said the exemption granted to Tamil Nadu from NEET was due to the relentless efforts of the State Government. He claimed that for the last 20 days or so, he and Ms. Sitharaman had persisted with the Centre in ensuring an exemption of Tamil Nadu from NEET.