'Divider Didi': BJP leaders slam Mamata Banerjee over JEE row

Many BJP leaders on Thursday slammed Mamata Banerjee after she objected over the engineering entrance examination JEE being conducted `only' in Gujarati besides English and Hindi.

The National Testing Agency (NTA) on Thursday clarified it had decided to make available the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) (Mains) paper in Gujarati language as Gujarat was the only state to have approached it on the issue.

The statement came a day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee criticised the Centre for adding Gujarati as a medium for the JEE (Mains) and asked why all other regional languages, including Bengali, should not be included as well. Escalating her fight with the Centre over alleged bias against regional languages in conducting JEE (Main) tests, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday her party will hold state-wide protests against it on November 11.

"The JEE (Main) Examination started in 2013 with the idea of all states admitting their engineering candidates through JEE (Main). The request was sent to all the states in the year 2013 itself," the NTA said in a press release. “The request was sent to all the states in 2013. Only Gujarat agreed to admit their candidates in state engineering colleges of Gujarat through JEE (Main) and requested that the JEE (Main) paper be made available in Gujarati language,” it said.

It said initially only Gujarat agreed to admit candidates to the state's engineering colleges through JEE (Main) and requested that question papers be made available in Gujarati language. In 2014, Maharashtra also opted for admitting the candidates through JEE and requested that question papers be provided in Marathi and Urdu. In 2016, both these states withdrew the admission to the state engineering colleges through JEE (Main). Therefore, the translation in Marathi and Urdu languages was stopped. However, the translation in Gujarati language continued at the request of Gujarat, it said.

Taking to Twitter, she said the Centre’s intention was to “malign all regions and regional languages”. “Joint Entrance Exams so long were conducted in English and Hindi languages. Surprisingly, now only Gujarati language has been added. Such a step is not at all praiseworthy,” she had said.

Banerjee further said that her move is not against Gujarati and all she wants is for other regional languages to be included as well. “I love Gujarati language. But, why the regional languages were ignored? If Gujarati language can be included, then all regional languages, including Bengali should be there,” she said.

Later, several BJP leaders engaged in war of words with Banerjee.

BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya on Thursday hit out at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and called her "divider didi". Taking to Twitter, Vijayvargiya posted the statement released by the National Testing Agency (NTA), which clarifies the grounds for conducting the exam in Gujarati, Hindi and English across India. "Dear Divider Didi, dividing people in the name of the language is not going to multiply your votes! To set the record straight, you never requested the exam to be held in Bengali!" he tweeted.

Slamming Mamata Banerjee's, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani slammed Banerjee in a tweet. Taking to Twitter, Rupani also posted a link of a clarification issued by the National Testing Agency on the objection raised by the West Bengal chief minister. "Dear #DividerDidi, people of your state need development not such divisive stunts. Now that the facts are out, you should apologise to the people for your lies!," Rupani tweeted.

Addressing a press conference here, Banerjee claimed that West Bengal education minister had written a letter months back for also including Bengali language for writing the examination but that was not done.

Asked whether Bengali language was being discriminated against, she said, "Not only Bengali, there is discriminatory attitude towards all the languages except one or two." TMC will hold protest marches in every block of the state on the issue on Monday, the party supremo said. "I also appeal to other states to hold protests on the issue," she said. Recalling how a row had erupted after Union Home Minister Amit Shah pitched for Hindi as a common language, Banerjee said India is a vast country and there are many languages, caste, creed and religion. "But one thing must be remembered that we are united, we are together because ultimately a united India is our motto," the chief minister said.

(Inputs from PTI)

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