Govt to convene all-party meet on UPSC row

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 6 2014, 21:29pm hrs
Under fire from the Opposition on the UPSC row, Government today decided to convene an all-party meeting on the issue while indicating its unwillingness to postpone the civil services preliminary examination scheduled for August 24.

The matter, which has disrupted parliamentary proceedings during the past week, rocked the Rajya Sabha again today with members from CPI-M, CPI, SP and BSP staging a walkout expressing dissatisfaction over Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Prakash Javadekar's statement on the issue.

Maintaining that it was a sensitive issue, which has many aspects, the minister said a discussion is needed to determine on whether a major reform of the examination pattern of the UPSC is required.

Referring to the demands of some Opposition members and a suggestion given to him by Ramgopal Yadav (SP) in this regard, Javadekar said, "An all-party meeting will definitely take place. If there is need, more such meetings can take place."

Noting that nine lakh students are appearing for the August 24 preliminary test of the UPSC, the minister urged the members, "Let us give our best wishes to all those, who are taking the August 24 exam."

Reacting sharply to the suggestion by the minister, Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said the views of all the parties have already come in the House and asked why does the government not take a decision on that basis rather than calling an all-party meeting.

Members from the CPI-M including P Rajeeve wanted to know the "status quo" asking whether the statement given by the Minister of DoPT Jitender Singh earlier on the issue now remains valid after Javadekar's remarks.

"What is the status quo Is it incorporative of the UPSC notification," Rajeeve asked.

Deputy Chairman P J Kurien tried to pacify the members saying, "The minister has not said that the statement is invalid."

"Do not apply delaying tactics. Government should say what is the status quo...this is not satisfactory. That is why we are staging a walk out," Yechury said before joining members of SP, BSP and CPI in the walkout.

Javadekar said the government took two decisions in the matter showing its sensitivity to the issue and "there are still many more questions" like "how relevant is the CSAT" exam pattern and in what language the exams including interviews should be held.

He said that perhaps there was never such a comprehensive debate on the UPSC exam pattern in the past insisting that "this debate is needed" on whether there is need for some change.

The issued was raised in the House soon after Question Hour was over as members from Congress, Left, SP, BSP and Trinamool Congress stood up slamming the government over its reply on the issue on Monday.

Minister of State Personnel Jitendra Singh had said, "Government is of the opinion that in the Civil Services Preliminary examination Paper-II, marks of the question section on 'English Language comprehension skills' should not be included for gradation or merit"

"Candidates, who appeared in Civil Services Examination 2011, may be given one more attempt in 2015," he had said.

Slamming the government, Pramod Tiwari (Cong) said these suggestions will add fuel to fire and alleged that government did it "deliberately" to divert the attention from the "internal fight within the government" and the problems of the country.

Satish Chandra Mishra (BSP) said the formula suggested by the DoPT Minister has "further complicated" the matter. "A decision is not taken in this manner," he said.

Mishra also castigated Congress on the issue reminding that the CSAT pattern of UPSC exams had begun in 2011 when they were in power.

Derek O'Brien (TMC) said the government has come with a "knee-jerk reaction in a hurry" which has further compounded the problem.

Maintaining that a solution to the problem cannot be found out by August 24, O'Brien said there is need to have more dialogue and discussion as "some say CSAT is very good and some say CSAT is bad".

He asked for a "clear, reliable and genuine assurance" from the government in this regard.

Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said the CSAT exam should be made qualifying with equal weightage to all Indian languages.

Referring to the translation problem in the CSAT exam, Ramgopal Yadav (SP) said steel plant has been translated as "lohe ka ped" and North Pole as (Uttari Khamba) in the Question papers and demanded that the second Question paper of CSAT should be withdrawn.

P Rajeeve (CPI-M) said the statement of the DoPT minister created more confusion and a comprehensive review of the exam is needed.

Bhupinder Singh (BJD) asked whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to consider holding an all-party meeting over the issue and rued that a row on UPSC exams are going on when there is a vacancy in the IAS cadre.

D P Tripathi (NCP) said government should look at it not only as an agitation of students since many university teachers associations have also supported it.

Calling the new examination pattern a "great injustice", he said everybody was happy with the old exam pattern.

Kanimozhi (DMK) said the DoPT minister's reply has "completely side stepped the issue of non-Hindi states" and alleged that the entire preliminary test is conducted on a "language bias" happening for many years in which students not very proficient in either English or Hindi suffer.

D Raja (CPI) said government's statement on the issue was "confusing" and a "knee-jerk" reaction was given by it.

V P Singh Badnore (BJP), however, said the issue was limited to 22 marks, which appears to have been settled. His remarks linking "Nepali and Rajasthani" with the issue evoked sharp reactions from Opposition benches.

J D Seelam (Cong) said it is wrong to remove English and suggested that instead negative marking should be removed, which will take care of the language problem in CSAT.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (BJP) took a jibe at Congress over the issue saying the NDA government is trying to fill the ditches dug by Congress-led UPA.

Demanding an all-party meeting to resolve the issue, he said SP leader Ramgopal Yadav had suggested to him regarding this.

K Keshav Rao (TRS) said government has a number of reports on this and should act taking a comprehensive view.

Rajiv Shukla (Cong) cautioned that since governance is getting complicated day by day, it will not be good if incompetent IAS officers are appointed due to politics over the issue.

During their two-minute clarification, leaders of a number of regional parties attacked Congress on the issue, saying the problem had begun during their tenure.