New Delhi: Cornered over the CSAT row, government Wednesday said that the exam this year should be allowed to be held in its current format, while promising an all-party meet to discuss the issue.
Sources said no change in the exam pattern is possible this year. However, the government might consider changes for next year’s exam.
In an attempt to put an end to the row around the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT), the government had announced Monday that the marks for English comprehension, which was being protested against, will not count in the final merit list.
However, opposition members in Rajya Sabha have been questioning the decision, calling it hasty.
In a brief discussion on the issue in the upper house Wednesday, opposition members questioned the status of other languages, while some of them demanded scrapping of the CSAT alltogether.
Participating in the discussion, D. Raja of the Communist Party of India said, “UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) should make available question papers in all Indian languages”.
Derek O’Brien of the Trinamool Congress called the government’s announcment Monday a “knee-jerk reaction”.
Pramod Tiwari of the Congress meanwhile alleged the government had fuelled the debate “deliberately” to divert the attention from other issues faced by the nation.
Bahujan Samaj Party leader Satish Chandra Mishra slammed the manner of taking the decision.
BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, however, said the step had been taken after much consideration, and was not a knee-jerk reaction.
“The government took a step after a lot of consideration and thought. This problem was started by the Congress and the UPA. Now the NDA and the BJP have come up with a proper solution for that,” Naqvi said.
Responding to the debate, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Prakash Javadekar said the government would convene an all-party meeting on the issue, adding that the government was considering the issues raised by the opposition.
“We will convene an all-party meeting to seek the views of the leaders on bringing reforms in the pattern of civil services examinations conducted by the UPSC,” he said.
He said that the preliminary examination scheduled for Aug 24 should be allowed to be held.
“Let us wish the candidates all the best and let the exam be held,” he said.
“Government has already announced some measures in this regard and we are also considering other options as suggested by the members,” he said.
Dissatisfied with the minister’s response, members of the Left, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party staged a walkout.
The upper house was then adjourned till 2 p.m.
Protests by the aspirants continued across the national capital Wednesday as well.
Deputy Commissioner of Police S.B.S. Tyagi said that at least 60 UPSC aspirants were still protesting at Jantar Mantar.
“The protesters are staging protest at Jantar Mantar for the past two days. The protest is peaceful. During the night only 15-20 protesters were sitting at the protest site, but the number increased in the day today (Wednesday),” Tyagi told IANS.
RJD MP Rajesh Ranjan, known as Pappu Yadav, protested outside BJP’s national headquarters at 11, Ashoka Road to extend support to the protesting civil service aspirants.
Aam Aadmi Party, meanwhile, extended support to the agitating students, and demanded postponement of the exam scheduled for Aug 24.
“We completely support the USPC anti-CSAT agitation, which is not against English or in support of Hindi. The protest demands justice to all Indian languages in the USPC examination, party leader Yogendra Yadav told media at party office in central Delhi.
He also said that his party is of the view that the civil service aspirants’ demands are genuine and the government ditched them in not fulling their demands.
“The government kept engaging the students. Union ministers only gave assurance to delay the decision and they ultimately gave what the student never want or demanded,” said Yadav.
The protests against the CSAT erupted in north Delhi’s Mukherjee Nagar July 27, when some aspirants torched some vehicles including a police van.