A heated debate ensued in Parliament over the recent National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test-Post Graduate paper leak. On Tuesday, Leader of Opposition Rahul Gandhi wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a debate in Parliament on the issue.

This came a day after he attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Lok Sabha over the alleged irregularities in the conduct of NEET that has taken the country by storm.

“I am writing to request for a debate in Parliament on NEET. As you are aware, the Opposition’s request for a debate on this issue was denied in both Houses of Parliament on June 28.

“Yesterday, the Opposition requested a discussion on this issue again. The honourable Speaker of the Lok Sabha had given assurance to the Opposition that he would discuss the matter with the government,” Gandhi said.

Calling the alleged paper leak a “betrayal of a lifetime dream”, Gandhi said that “lakhs of families have made tremendous personal sacrifices to support their children.”

“(They are) looking up to us, their public representatives, to take bold and decisive steps to resolve the issue. The NEET examination deserves immediate attention because it has exposed the deep rot in our higher education system,” Gandhi said.

This also comes at a time when students all over the country are protesting against the National Testing Agency (NTA), after the agency announced cancellation of another exam called UGC-NET.

On Tuesday, student unions marched towards the Parliament to protest against the paper leaks and the cancellation but were arrested. Students have also been staging a sit-in at the Jantar Mantar against the irregularities in NTA-held examinations.

The indefinite sit-in strike of the protesting students entered the sixth day on Monday. The stress of cancellation of examinations and other irregularities have left the students worried about their future.

Meanwhile, responding to Gandhi’s remarks in the Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that the government is working on plans to curb incidents of paper leaks, while asserting that those playing with the future of youngsters will not be spared.

Responding to the NEET controversy, the PM in his reply to the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address said the government is “very serious” about stopping such incidents.

Aiman, a student from Mumbai, who sat for UGC-NET told The Citizen how things have been difficult as she has been preparing for the exams the past year and it was her first attempt.

“My aim was to clear it and for sure get it over with. I gave the exam and the next day it was cancelled. It impacted me. I thought, does it even matter? If this has happened once now, then will it not happen again,” she said.

Meanwhile, Press Trust of India quoting sources reported that NEET-PG 2024 is expected to be held in mid-August.

On Monday, a meeting was held at the Union home ministry with officials from the health ministry, the National Board of Examinations in Medical Sciences (NBEMS), Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), and Cyber Cell. They discussed preparations for the NEET-PG exam, which will be conducted online.

“Besides the NEET-PG, the meeting was held to evaluate the robustness of the system for the conduct of the Foreign Medical Graduates Examination, which is scheduled for July 6,” reported the PTI .

While the Rajya Sabha opposition even walked out of the session protesting against NEET, Aiman said she thinks there needs to be a stern call for action.

“The Opposition needs to talk about it more. While it is refreshing to see them question the ruling party. But I feel they are doing the bare minimum when they could be taking this to the streets,” she said.

On June 22, the Union Health ministry postponed the NEET-PG entrance exam, initially set for June 23, as a precautionary step due to concerns about the integrity of some competitive exams.

The ministry announced it would thoroughly evaluate the NEET-PG processes, which are managed by NBEMS in collaboration with its technical partner, TCS, for medical students.