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Interview With KC Venugopal

Interview With KC Venugopal

The CBSE paper leak controversy has left thousands of students completely traumatised across the country. The CBSE’s bungling and the Union HRD ministry’s ineptitude has led to political mudslinging between the ruling National Democratic Alliance and the opposition parties. While the opposition parties lambasted the government for CBSE’s failure to ensure the sanctity of the system, the government ordered an internal inquiry and implemented a new system for question paper printing. Obviously not-satisfied with the government’s knee-jerk reactions, the opposition continue to raise the issue in Parliament and outside.

Anju Grover for Indian Currents spoke to senior Congress MP K C Venugopal to know his party’s stand on the entire controversy.   The principal opposition party demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should speak out on the CBSE paper leak issue and provide a solution to students who had been affected by it. Venugopal accused the government of running away from the discussion on the issue in Parliament.

IC: The opposition parties are up in arms to target the BJP led government on the CBSE paper leak issue. What is your party's stand on the issue?

K C Venugopal: Reports regarding the leakage of CBSE question paper have raised serious apprehension and anger among the students as well as parents. This is a very serious issue as it traumatised students and also destroyed credibility of an institution like CBSE. The Government can’t wash off its hands from this controversy. The complete negligence and utter lack of seriousness from the Government and CBSE are responsible for it. Ever since the BJP led alliance assumed the office, it has tried to sabotage various institutions of the country.

IC: The government has already ordered an inquiry. You have demanded PM to make a statement in Parliament and demanded a CBI probe. Why?

Yes, we have demanded the statement of Prime Minister on the issue. It is ironical that Prime Minister in Mann ki Baat, spoke on ways to avoid stress during examinations and he even wrote a book named “Exam Warriors”. But negligence of the government has upset these students. The paper leak has ruined lives of lakhs of students. Even after a series of protests, PM didn’t make any statement on this issue. We also demand a CBI probe on this incident to arrest all the culprits behind this act.

IC: This is not the first time when papers have leaked. It happened during the time of Congress rule. So how is this episode different from the UPA I and UPA II time. BJP leaders have quoted AIIMS paper leak issue to target Congress party.

This is a usual strategy from the ruling party to put the blame on UPA for their wrongdoing. This is a ‘Jhumla’ of the NDA to run away from serious questions.

IC: The blame-game is on. You have brought up the issue of Vyapam scam. Can you explain it why?

You can see that crores of youth are unemployed and have taken to streets. The Modi Government has systematically destroyed institutions one by one. First they nurtured the ‘Vyapam Virus’ in Madhya Pradesh, then they spread the same patented virus throughout the country in the multi layered SSC Scam and now they have facilitated the leakage of CBSE question paper. Now it is clear that Encouraging ‘Exam Mafia’ has become the bedrock of BJP’s policies.

IC: The paper leak issue has yet again brought the focus on loopholes in the examination system. What, according to you, has gone wrong?

There are many issues. First, the Government has forgone the established practice of giving different questions across 3 sets of paper for students in each exam. This had prevented cheating, duplications and paper leak.   Instead, the HRD Ministry/CBSE resorted to setting one paper with identical questions across the country.   They also stopped the practice of dividing the country into 4 zones. This practice was aimed at further preventing copying, cheating and leaking of papers.

IC: The board examinations system for class 10 has been resumed this time after it was stopped few years ago under Congress regime. Do you think that the CBSE is unable to hold exams at the large scale and that is why board exams should be scrapped? Who, according to you, is responsible for the leak – CBSE or is it a systemic failure?

Both the Government and the CBSE are responsible for the failure of system. Instead of addressing this serious issue, Human resource development minister is busy with Karnataka election campaign. Those people arrested by the police in connection with the leaking of CBSE paper, are associated with the students of wing of BJP. It also raised serious questions about the possible conspiracy behind the paper leak. It even raised serious questions about the credibility of CBSE. Why are questionable practices like errors in evaluation of board exams, inflation of marks and other malpractices continuing in CBSE in an unchecked manner? CBSE has been assigned the all-important task of conducting NEET Exams/IIT Entrance and NET examination. It is doubtful if these exams are also plagued by similar irregularities and leakages.

IC: The paper leak led to tension amongst the students, teachers and parents. Do you think re-test is a good idea?

The idea of retest will create more tension and practical problems for the students. It is quiet impossible for them to re-appear for exam after completion of academic activities. They have to go for higher education courses.

IC: What will be your strategy in parliament which has not been working for the last few days and the government has blamed your party and opposition for creating a ruckus in parliament over paper leak and other issues. Will you allow the parliament to function until PM makes a statement on it? The BJP said that the congress is playing politics in the name of students.

It is a complete lie. The congress party and other opposition parties have agreed for a smooth functioning of the parliament from the first day itself. But the Government is running away from discussions. There are many serious issues like PNB Scam, defaulting of bank loans, CBSE question paper leaks, and special status for Andhra Pradesh, which need to be discussed in Parliament. But the Government has not come forward. We gave notices for no-confidence to the speaker, but even after two weeks, the Government has not even tried to ensure order in the house and act on our notices.

It is the Government, not we, are running away from the discussions. The issue of paper leak is not a political issue at all. It is an issue of complete negligence and irresponsibility from the Government. They are playing with the lives of lakhs of students.

(Published on 09th April 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 14 & 15)