Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi
Photo: PTI

For the first time, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee convened a meeting with Congress interim Chief Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday regarding the postponement of NEET and JEE (Main). The meeting was attended by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh and Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel.

The meeting which started at 2:30 pm opened with comments from Sonia before Mamata took over for most of the meeting while thanking the Congress interim Chief for the opportunity to convene the meeting. The West Bengal Chief Minister mentioned that she had written twice to Prime Minister Modi to request the Centre to reconsider holding NEET and JEE. The SC had last week given the go-ahead and JEE and NEET is slated to be held from the 1st of September.

Speaking at the meeting, Mamata suggested that the opposition CMs should appeal to the SC to reconsider holding the NEET JEE exams in September which would put students at risk amidst the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown. Another suggestion given by Mamata was to hold a dharna.

“I request to state government, lets us do it all together,” said Mamata Banerjee.         

This meeting gains importance as it depicts Mamata’s views taking centre-stage along with Sonia. Federalism was also a prime focus of the discussion. Other CMs took the moment to bring up issues such as GST and the role of the Centre in controlling taxes and the prices of petrol and diesel which inconvenience the common man. Many expressed their dissatisfaction over the Centre’s partisan attitude towards allies and non-BJP states when it came to imparting funds meant for the functioning of the state.

Mamata noted that the CMs were not begging as these are funds meant for the state.  

“Where will the money come from, the sky? We are trying our best, it is very difficult to pay salaries to employees. Unorganized sector is affected. They (centre) gives big speeches and if we speak, then there are agencies behind us (ED, CBI). I have not seen in democracy this type of atrocity. We can’t speak out freely,” said Mamata while referring to the ED notices sent to five Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders this week in connection with the Narada sting operation where people purported to be TMC leaders are seen in the video. Notices were sent to Suvendu Adhikari, Saugata Roy, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Apurba, Poddar and Ratna Chatterjee.   

In the virtual world amidst the pandemic, the video conferencing meeting overall has signalled hope for opposition leaders with like-minded views coming together. Despite not being planned greatly in advance, it addresses key issues and shows that the anti-BJP states and parties mean business.

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Free Press Journal