Escalating her fight with the Centre over alleged bias against regional languages in conducting Joint Entrance Examination (Main) tests, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday her party will hold state-wide protests against it on November 11.
She also asked other states to organise similar protests.
The Trinamool Congress supremo is up in arms against the Centre over inclusion of only the Gujarati language in the JEE (Main) examination held for admission to engineering colleges.
She claimed states were not consulted about it, a charge dismissed by the National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducts the examination.
"If the central government is taking a decision, they should have asked the state government. How do we know? Are we the God? We are not the God, so how do we know what is in their mind? They should have informed the state government that please send it (proposal for inclusion of a regional language for writing the test)," Banerjee said.
She said since every student may not be proficient in the English language, all regional languages including the Bengali, should have been included in the JEE list.
The NTA, however, clarified that though requests were sent to all states, only Gujarat and Maharashtra agreed to admit candidates in their engineering colleges through JEE (Main).
"The JEE (Main) Examination started in 2013 with the idea of all states admitting their engineering candidates through JEE (Main). The request was sent to all the states in the year 2013 itself," the NTA said in a press release.
It said initially only Gujarat agreed to admit candidates to the state's engineering colleges through JEE (Main) and requested that question papers be made available in Gujarati language.
In 2014, Maharashtra also opted for admitting the candidates through JEE and requested that question papers be provided in Marathi and Urdu.
In 2016, both these states withdrew the admission to the state engineering colleges through JEE (Main). Therefore, the translation in Marathi and Urdu languages was stopped.
However, the translation in Gujarati language continued at the request of Gujarat, it said.
"None of the other states have approached NTA to provide the JEE (Main) question paper in any other Indian national language," the release read.
However, addressing a press conference here, Banerjee claimed that West Bengal education minister had written a letter months back for also including Bengali language for writing the examination but that was not done.
Asked whether Bengali language was being discriminated against, she said, "Not only Bengali, there is discriminatory attitude towards all the languages except one or two."
TMC will hold protest marches in every block of the state on the issue on Monday, the party supremo said.
"I also appeal to other states to hold protests on the issue," she said.
Recalling how a row had erupted after Union Home Minister Amit Shah pitched for Hindi as a common language, Banerjee said India is a vast country and there are many languages, caste, creed and religion.
"But one thing must be remembered that we are united, we are together because ultimately a united India is our motto," the chief minister said.