Kerala opposition to intensify protest against medical colleges fee hike

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 3 (IANS) The Congress-led opposition on Monday continued to interrupt proceedings in the Kerala assembly for the sixth consecutive day and decided to intensify its protest against the “indiscriminate” fee hike in private self-financing medical colleges.

The opposition asserted that it would not call off the protest until the government rolled back the fee hike.

The opposition disruption forced adjournment of the House during Question Hour. And when it reassembled, Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan said conciliation talks were held between Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and opposition leaders — but without the desired breakthrough.

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said: “Our protest will continue as we want the government to do justice regarding the fee hike. Since two of our legislators are sitting on a fast, we are in no position to take part in the assembly proceedings and hence we are walking out.”

Since Wednesday, three legislators of the Congress-led opposition have been on an indefinite fast in the foyer of the Kerala Assembly protesting the fee hike.

One of the legislators was shifted to hospital last week following deterioration in his health condition while on Monday the condition of the other two legislators took a turn for the worse.

Later the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) leadership met and decided to intensify the protest and conduct a protest meet across the state on Tuesday, UDF Convenor P.P. Thankachen told reporters after the meeting.

Reacting to Chennithala, Vijayan said that since the day the session has started, the opposition has been on a protest mode.

“The James Committee (appellate authority) which looks into the complaints in admission procedures has already cancelled the admission done by two colleges … such a thing is happening for the first time. We have already made clear that we will not allow anyone to break rules,” Vijayan declared.

“We have also agreed to the demand of the opposition to conduct a Crime Branch probe to find out if any of these colleges had collected capitation fees,” the Chief Minister said.

Meanwhile, following the opposition protest, several privately managed medical colleges have expressed their willingness to reduce fees.

Even though the Vijayan government has claimed that they have been able to end capitation fee being charged by private managements, the opposition has termed it as a “bluff”, and pointed out that capitation fee for a medical seat still ranged between Rs 25 lakh and Rs 35 lakh.

While the fee in the sector went up by Rs 47,000 (during the five-year tenure of the previous Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy), the Vijayan government has increased it by Rs 65,000 since the new government took office in May this year.



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