Indian National Congress (INC) interim president Sonia Gandhi held a virtual meeting today with chief ministers of states ruled by her party and those of West Bengal, Maharashtra and Jharkhand to discuss several key issues such as the row over NEET/JEE examination, the COVID-19 situation in the country and GST compensation to states. Targeting the Narendra Modi over different issues, the chief ministers said there was a need to work and fight together against the Centre.
Here is who said what at the meeting:
INC chief Sonia Gandhi
- Announcements such as those related to the National Education Policy should really concern the opposition. They are a setback for secular and scientific values and reveal the “insensitivity” of the government. Other problems of students and exams are also being dealt with “uncaringly”.
- In the meeting of Standing Committee of Finance on 11 August, the finance secretary stated that the Centre is not in a position to pay mandatory GST compensation of 14% for the current year. This refusal is nothing short of betrayal on part of the Modi government.
- In her introductory remarks, Sonia said she agreed with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray that all opposition-ruled states should together fight the Centre for their rights.
- The Modi government is weakening the draft EIA legislation is anti-democratic; laws to protect the environment, public health etc.
- We have to work and fight together against the Central government.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray
- We should decide whether we have to fight or fear the Central government.
- Opposition chief ministers should speak louder as the Central government is trying to suppress our voice.
- There was a report from the US that about 97,000 children were infected by COVID-19 when schools were opened. What will we do if such a situation arises here?
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
- The exams (NEET/JEE) are in September. Why should the lives of students be put at risk? We have written to the prime minister, but there has been no response.
- If the Prime Minister does not listen to us, then we all (states) collectively should approach the Supreme Court on the issue.
- This will be my request to all state government, let us do it together, let us go to Supreme Court and postpone the exam for the time being until and unless the situation allows students to sit for exams.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh (INC)
- The COVID-19 situation is getting worse. We’ve spent nearly Rs 500 crore, We’re in a situation where the finances of our states are completely down.
- Punjab may face a deficit of Rs 25,000 crore this year due to the pandemic.
- The Centre has not paid the GST compensation. I agree with Mamata ji that we should collectively see Prime Minister Modi and apprise him of the revenue situation in states.
- All of us in the meeting today should go to the Supreme Court (to file a review petition on the Supreme Court’s order to hold NEET and JEE exams).
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel (INC)
- The Centre has not paid the GST compensation to the states for the last 4 months. Today, the situation is fearful.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren
- The ruling party us using agencies against the opposition and undermining the federal structure of the country.
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy (INC)
- Conducting NEET, JEE will lead to a rise in COVID-19 cases.
- The Centre will be responsible if students get affected during the exams.