Modi Government 3.0 | From coalition pressure to exam controversies to strong opposition — what to expect in the beginning session

Modi Government 3.0 | From coalition pressure to exam controversies to strong opposition — what to expect in the beginning session

The dawn of Modi 3.0 heralds a new parliamentary session, but the atmosphere is far from the usual air of anticipation. Set to commence today (Monday, June 24 ), this session is pivotal, with the election of Speaker and the unveiling of the first budget of the new NDA coalition government. Yet, beneath the surface of this procedural normalcy lies a brewing storm.

For the first time, even before the oath-taking ceremony of the newly elected MPs, the NDA is embroiled in controversy. The uproar over alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG and NET examinations has sent shockwaves through the nation’s academic circles, affecting lakhs of students and potentially derailing many futures.

The scandal’s epicentre, Bihar — where the BJP shares power with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United (JDU) — has become the focal point of political scrutiny. This is particularly significant as the BJP’s alliance with the JDU is crucial, given the BJP’s lack of an outright majority in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Adding to the government’s woes is the alleged manipulation of the stock market, timed with the release of exit polls—a move that has cast a shadow over the government’s economic stewardship. This has not only placed the government under intense scrutiny but also presented the opposition with a golden opportunity to apply pressure.

As the NDA government navigates these choppy waters, it faces a dual challenge — managing the political fallout and ensuring policy integrity. The opposition, sensing vulnerability, is poised to seize this moment. The unfolding drama in the corridors of power will test the mettle of the NDA’s leadership and strategy, making this parliamentary session a tightrope walk of high stakes and heightened expectations. The outcome will set the tone for the government’s tenure and could redefine the political landscape. 

Exam Irregularities And Pressure on NDA

The integrity of India’s educational assessment system is under intense scrutiny following the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) recent FIRs concerning alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG and NET exams. The discovery of “solver gangs” and the potential involvement of public servants underscore a deep-rooted malaise that threatens the very fabric of educational equity. This crisis not only jeopardises the future of millions of students but also tests the resolve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to uphold justice and transparency in the education sector.

Allegations of paper leaks and systemic fraud have sparked widespread outrage, with students and parents demanding accountability. The government’s response will be crucial in maintaining public trust. The pressure is on the NDA government to confront corruption and implement effective reforms. Opposition parties have seized this opportunity to criticise the government’s oversight of educational institutions, further intensifying the political stakes.

In the wake of these scandals, the NDA government faces the dual challenge of managing the immediate fallout and instituting long-term measures to safeguard the integrity of entrance examinations. Swift and transparent investigations are imperative, along with comprehensive reforms to prevent such breaches in the future. The establishment of a high-level committee to recommend these reforms is a step in the right direction, but its effectiveness will be judged by its implementation and the prevention of future irregularities.

This crisis serves as a stern test for the NDA government’s credibility. Its ability to handle the situation with integrity and efficiency will be crucial in restoring faith in India’s educational system and governance. The actions taken now will set a precedent for addressing educational malpractices and ensuring a fair and transparent process for all candidates.

India’s Education System Demands a Policy Revolution

The recent uproar over the NEET-UG and NET scams has put the NDA government in the spotlight, not just for the immediate response but for the urgent need for a policy overhaul in India’s education system. While probes and punitive measures are necessary, they are merely a reactive approach to a problem that is systemic and deeply entrenched.

Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s assurance of the “harshest punishment” for the guilty is a step in the right direction, but it does not address the root cause of the issue. The National Testing Agency (NTA) has been under fire for alleged paper leaks and inflated scores, leading to a crisis of confidence among students and parents alike. The formation of committees and the involvement of the CBI signify the gravity of the situation, yet they fall short of a comprehensive solution.

India’s burgeoning youth population deserves an education system that is robust, transparent, and fair. This can only be achieved through a sweeping policy reform that ensures stringent security measures, transparency in the examination process, and accountability at all levels of educational governance. The government’s willingness to undertake such reforms will be the true test of its commitment to the nation’s future.

In conclusion, while the current investigations are crucial, they are not a panacea. India needs a policy revolution that not only prevents such scams from recurring but also restores faith in the education system as a whole.

Market Mayhem and Governance on Edge

The Indian stock market’s recent volatility, spurred by exit poll predictions, has cast a long shadow over the integrity of financial institutions and the stability of the nation’s economy. As the Sensex and Nifty soared to record highs following exit poll results favouring the incumbent government, which was  openly endorsed by the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, the subsequent crash led to significant losses, particularly for retail investors. This tumultuous period has raised serious concerns about potential market manipulation and insider trading, shaking investor confidence and prompting calls for stringent regulatory oversight.

The volatility index, India VIX, plummeted by over 22%, signalling a temporary end to market uncertainty post-exit polls. However, the euphoria was short-lived as the equity market experienced a downturn, reflecting the market’s sensitivity to political developments. The anticipation of a substantial victory for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was quickly tempered by the reality of a coalition government, which may slow down the pace of economic reforms and introduce policy paralysis.

The government’s uphill battle is not just against market forces but also against the backdrop of examination irregularities that have marred its credibility. With the economy already facing challenges, the need for political stability in a coalition era adds another layer of complexity to the government’s agenda. The dual allegations of examination scams and stock market manipulation have arrived at a critical juncture, demanding a robust response from the government to restore public trust and maintain its political foothold.

Ensuring a thorough investigation into these allegations is paramount for the government’s credibility. The path forward requires a delicate balance between addressing immediate concerns and implementing long-term reforms to prevent future irregularities. The government’s ability to navigate these troubled waters will be a testament to its commitment to transparency and good governance. As India steps back into a coalition era, the road to tough reforms becomes steeper, and the government’s resolve to overcome these challenges will define its legacy and India’s economic trajectory.

Opportunity For Opposition 

The recent NEET UG and NET scams, coupled with allegations of stock market manipulation through exit polls, have created a storm in India’s political and economic landscape. These issues present a significant opportunity for the opposition to challenge the NDA government in the first parliamentary session after the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The NEET UG 2024 scandal, involving allegations of paper leaks and inflated scores, has already eroded public trust in the examination process. Reports indicate that students and parents have raised serious concerns about irregularities, with some even questioning how multiple students from a single centre scored perfect marks. This scandal, combined with the broader examination irregularities, has marred the government’s credibility, especially when the education sector is under such scrutiny.

Simultaneously, allegations of stock market manipulation tied to exit polls have further compounded the crisis. The sharp rally and subsequent crash in the stock market around the time of the exit polls have raised suspicions of insider trading and market manipulation. TMC MP Saket Gokhale has called for a SEBI investigation, pointing to potential links between market profiteers and the BJP, as well as possible conflicts of interest involving pollsters.

These dual scandals provide the opposition with ample ammunition to question the government’s integrity and transparency. They can argue that these issues highlight systemic failures and demand comprehensive reforms. Furthermore, the opposition can use this platform to call for stricter regulatory oversight and more transparent governance practices, positioning themselves as champions of accountability and reform.

In the parliamentary session, opposition parties are likely to press the government hard on these matters, seeking answers and pushing for independent investigations. The handling of these issues will be crucial for the NDA government, which must navigate the delicate balance between addressing the allegations and maintaining public trust.

In summary, the NEET UG and NET scams, along with the stock market manipulation allegations, offer a potent narrative for the opposition. These events underscore the need for robust reforms and provide a critical opportunity for opposition parties to hold the government accountable and push for greater transparency and integrity in governance.

— The author, Prof. Sayantan Ghosh (@sayantan_gh), is a political observer and columnist who teaches journalism at St. Xavier’s College,  Kolkata. The views expressed are personal.

Read his previous articles here 

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