Chennai: The centre on Sunday confirmed that it was ready to exempt Tamil Nadu from the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for one year in government college admissions, if the state passed an ordinance on it.

Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman who was participating in an event in Chennai said that the ordinance seeking exemption should specify that it was being provided to help rural students get admission in government colleges.

“There are 4,000 seats for which children are still waiting for clarity on admission process. The Tamil Nadu government can request for exemption in government colleges," said Sitharaman.

She added: “There are students who have cleared the test but the rural children are getting sidelined. If the state government can point this out in an ordinance, we are ready to give an exemption."

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Tamil Nadu health minister, C. Vijayabaskar said that the government will submit the ordinance on Monday to exempt the state from NEET for a year.

Tamil Nadu which has been opposing NEET had sought an exemption from the entrance test. Tamil Nadu, chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Friday met prime minister Narendra Modi in Delhi and said that he discussed exempting the state from the purview of all NEET exam.

Two bills passed in the state assembly by the Palaniswami government for providing exemption from NEET for admission to medical courses are awaiting presidential assent.

On Sunday opposition leader and the DMK’s working president M.K. Stalin accused the centre and state for “staging drama" on the issue and “betraying" students.

He said if the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) led NDA government at the centre was interested in the welfare of students, “it should get presidential assent for the two bills for a permanent exemption from NEET."

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Last week, the Supreme Court upheld a Madras High Court judgment quashing a Tamil Nadu government order that reserved 85% of the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) and, Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) seats to state board students and 15% for students from CBSE and other boards.

NEET, which was declared illegal and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013, was restored in April last year, after a five-judge constitution bench recalled the earlier verdict and allowed the Centre and the Medical Council of India (MCI) to implement the common entrance test. However, last year, following requests from states like Tamil Nadu, a law was made granting an exemption from NEET, only for government colleges, for one year.

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