The first direct talks between anti-reservation medicos and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh failed on Friday night and the students and doctors decided to continue their strike, which has thrown basic health services out of gear in several cities.
Dr Singh had an hour-long meeting with the medicos during which he told them that he foresees a massive expansion of the higher education system which would see a huge growth in the educational opportunities available to all classes and categories of students.
"The prime minister assured them (medicos) that the roadmap laid down in the decision of the UPA Coordination Committee addressed the concerns of all categories of students," Dr Singh's media advisor Sanjaya Baru told reporters.
The prime minister told the students that the technical experts groups being set up under the Oversight Committee will examine ways and means of expanding capacities and the government was committed to the expansion, Baru said.
He said the students could also give their specific suggestions to these committees.
The students presented Dr Singh a charter of demands and expressed their concerns about the future of their fellow students, Baru said.
Immediately after the meeting with the prime minister, the General Body Meeting of resident doctors and medical students met for two hours and decided to continue their strike that began on May 14.
The students, after a meeting with Union Minister Oscar Fernandes on Thursday night, said they were not totally against reservation but wanted it for economically backward sections of the society and not on caste basis.
Meanwhile, a delegation of All India Institute of Medical Sciences doctors met Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan in New Delhi and complained to him that though they wanted to join duty, they were not allowed to do so by the authorities and the anti-reservation activists.
The doctors, mostly belonging to backward classes, said they had sent a memorandum to the prime minister and the Health Minister stating that they were keen on joining duties.
Before the medicos' meeting with the Prime Minister, the anti-quota stir was also discussed at a high level meeting of medical superintendents of all hospitals and Health Secretary P Hota with the Cabinet Secretary, sources said.
In the meeting, AIIMS Director P Venugopal said the number of seats could be increased from the current 50 to 90, sources said, adding however that the Cabinet decision was pending on the matter.
Coverage: The Reservation Issue