AIADMK Election Ad With Student Who Died By Suicide Deleted After Outcry

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Tamil Nadu School Education Minister Ma Foi Pandiarajan deleted the video on Twitter featuring 17-year-old Anitha.

AIADMK Election Ad With Student Who Died By Suicide Deleted After Outcry

Anitha died by suicide in 2017 because of the NEET medical entrance exam.



Chennai:

Tamil Nadu School Education Minister Ma Foi Pandiarajan has deleted a controversial video posted on Twitter showing a student topper and medical aspirant who had died by suicide over the NEET medical entrance test seeking votes for the ruling AIADMK after widespread outrage including from her family.

Using old videos of the medical aspirant from the scheduled caste community, the tweet suggested 17-year-old Anitha would praise the ruling AIADMK’s new 7.5 per cent reservation for government school students in medical admissions saying, “Never in the history of Tamil Nadu have more than 400 poor students have had the chance to study medicine. Jayalalithaa’s rule has given this opportunity. Don’t forgive DMK which destroyed the medical dreams of 17 students. The ink in your hand is our life.”

Slamming Mr Pandiarajan, Anitha’s brother said, “You’ve proven you are worse than a worm that feeds off a corpse. Please remove the video.”

Sharing a new video on Twitter, Mr Pandiarajan claimed the campaign ad featuring Anitha was posted without his permission and he had nothing to do with it. He said, “I don’t have any intention to slander anyone. It had been posted without my permission. Appropriate action will be taken against whoever had done it. An FIR would be filed with cyber-crime as well.”

The nationwide medical entrance exam NEET is an emotive subject in Tamil Nadu and a key poll issue in the state. Over the last few years, 17 medical aspirants including toppers have died by suicide unable to crack the exam. This is one issue in which both Dravidian parties the AIADMK and DMK agree, seeking a ban on this test in the state.

For nearly a decade, to protect the interests of poor and rural students who can’t afford private coaching, the Tamil Nadu government had abolished the entrance exam for medical admissions and seats were given out solely based on Class 12 exams.

Mr Pandiarajan had triggered a controversy in 2017 too by using a replica of Jayalalithaa’s coffin draped in the national flag during his campaign for the RK Nagar by-poll, the constituency she represented till her death.

Though the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had brought in NEET, its member, the then ruling DMK had managed to get presidential order exempting the state using its political clout. However, under the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rule at the centre, the AIADMK could not secure a similar exemption.

Things barely changed even after it became an ally of the BJP. The ruling AIADMK, however, blames the DMK for the introduction of NEET in the first place despite being part of the union government then.

Tamil Nadu will vote on Tuesday for a new government. Results will be announced on May 2, alongside several other state and territory elections in West Bengal, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry.

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