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DMK manifesto: Party assures scrapping of NEET, bringing quota in pvt sector

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: March 19, 2019  | 18:24 IST

(Eds: Adding details) Chennai, Mar 19 (PTI) The DMK Tuesday promised to do away with the National Eligibility-Cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for medical admissions and usher in quota in the private sector in its manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections. "The NEET for medical admissions will be scrapped," DMK chief M K Stalin said, unveiling the salient features of his party's manifesto. Addressing a press conference, he termed the manifesto as both the "hero and heroine and definitely not a villain," and assured steps for waiver of all educational loans taken by students. Stalin also promised waiver of crop loans of small and marginal farmers and supply of farm inputs, including seeds and fertilisers in subsidy. Opposition to NEET in Tamil Nadu from major political parties and students had taken emotive overtones in the past. In 2017, a 17-year-old Dalit girl of Ariyalur district, S Anitha, who scored 1176 marks out of 1200 in her Class XII exam committed suicide as she could not get a good NEET score. Daughter of a daily wage earner from a village in the district, she had also impleaded in a case in the Supreme Court against the NEET. Her death triggered a state wide outrage, with all political parties and students coming together against NEET. After its legal efforts and legislative measures to avoid NEET failed, the AIADMK government had set up coaching centres to train students for the entrance test. "NEET is against the interests of students belonging to the poor, rural and oppressed classes across the country. In the interests of social justice, the DMK will strive for the abolition of NEET forthwith," the manifesto said. In keeping with the Dravidian movement's long time demand for quota in the private sector too, Stalin said steps would be taken to implement reservation in the sector. Noting that employment opportunities in the government and public sector units were dwindling, DMK said quota should hence be "followed compulsorily in the private sector too." Such affirmative action was already in vogue in the U.S., the DMK claimed, adding such a measure alone would be "the just and appropriate outcome of social justice." The DMK would hence "continue to urge the Centre to compulsorily follow the reservation system in the private sector also." To incentivise quota implementation, DMK said corporate taxes for companies that implement quota will be cut to 21 per cent from 30 per cent. "Further cut in corporate taxes will be extended if they proportionately employ minorities and women." The DMK also promised a probe in the Rafale deal by setting up a Joint Parliamentary Committee, "compensation" for "victims of demonetisation,"claiming that more than 100 people lost their lives while waiting in queues to change currency notes. Extending the benefits of reservation to Dalit Christians under the Scheduled Castes quota, implementation of the recommendations of Justices Ranganath Mishra and Sachar Committee were among the assurances DMK made to minorities. Toeing the line of its ally, Congress, the DMK pledged to disband "Niti Aayog" and bring back the Planning Commission and ensure independence of Constitutional bodies like the CAG, "undermined" during the BJP regime. The DMK targeted the BJP on various issues, including its handling of the economy, demonetisation and the Rafale deal. It assured continued backup for its core support groups, including the minorities, pro-Tamil segments, besides renewing its commitment to regional aspirations, state autonomy, social justice and secularism through several measures. Hiking the Income Tax exemption limit to Rs eight lakh, devolving 60 per cent of the total tax revenue of the Centre to states were among the other assurances. Implementing "acceptable" GST rates and exempting life insurance and electricity supply from the ambit of GST were the other promises the party made on the economy front. On the poll reforms, DMK said it was for reintroduction of ballot papers and for "proportional representation." Batting for a separate agriculture budget, the party said it would strive for a Minimum Support Price of Rs 2,500 per quintal for paddy, Rs 4,000 per tonne for sugarcane and fair profits for farmers. Against the background of agitations by state government employees seeking reversion to the old pension scheme in place of the newly-introduced contributory scheme, the DMK chief said: "We will bring back the old pension scheme for both the central and state government employees." He said the DMK would strive for reverting to the administered price mechanism to regulate the prices of petrol, diesel and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). Another key feature is doing away with the direct cash transfer of subsidy for LPG and bringing down prices of cylinders. Batting for release of all the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, DMK said they should be released on humanitarian grounds as they were in prison for 27 years and also favoured abolition of death sentence. DMK is contesting 20 seats in Tamil Nadu, allotting the remaining 19 to its allies, including nine to Congress. The state goes to polls in a single phase on April 18. PTI VGN APR TVS

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