Ramesh Pokhriyal vs Subramanian Swamy: BJP leaders spar over JEE attendance

Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy once again appears to be at a counterpoint to members of his party. The BJP leader has been vocal in his efforts to get the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test and Joint Entrance Examination postponed, even repeatedly contacting the Prime Minister for the same.

None of these efforts however have borne fruit. While the JEE has gone ahead, the Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to entertain requests for postponement of the upcoming NEET. Soon after this, Swamy had taken to Twitter calling out the disgraceful state of affairs and suggesting that around 10 lakh students had given the JEE a miss. "Out 18 lakhs who down loaded passes only 8 lakhs turned up to take up the exam," he had tweeted.

But while Swamy says that only 8 lakh showed up, data given by the National Testing Agency suggests that only 858395 candidates were registered for the recently concluded exam. Swamy's criticism does not seem to have gone down well with Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal who took it upon himself to fact-check the MP.

"Dr. @Swamy39 Ji, I would like to place some facts on the record regarding #JEE(Main) exams. The number of applicants for #JEEMains stands at 8.58 lakhs, not 18 lakhs as you tweeted," he retorted. Of these, he adds, 6.35 lakhs appeared for the exam, with the Centre and State governments assuring "all possible assistance to the students".

"#JEEMains Exams are held twice in a year. The previous one was held in January this year. Several students who didn't appear for the exam in Sept may have done well in the January exam hence did not feel the need to sit for the exam this time. We are ascertaining those numbers," he added.

Swamy however was quick to point out that if 6.35 lakh out of 8.58 lakh had not attended the exam, this would still mean that "more than 26% did not attend".

"That is highest in JEE exam history, he noted.

Swamy also suggests that the number put forward by Pokhriyal is not the same as what the Ministry of Education had earlier put forward.

"I will soon tweet what the Ministry of Education stated to the Supreme Court as candidates registered State wide and abroad at 953 473 at 660 centres. The Minister’s tweet for me to see his “facts” was 8.58 lakhs. Now whose’s is official?" he had tweeted.

This was followed by a copy of the state wise distribution of candidates and centres. The document shared by Swamy does indeed show a higher number of candidates for both April/September 2020 and for January 2020.

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