The Election Commission (EC) has directed the Uttar Pradesh education board to put the high school and intermediate board examination schedule on hold, sparking speculation over the dates for the forthcoming assembly polls.
Immediately after Uttar Pradesh Madhyamik Shiksha Parishad (UPMSP) secretary Shail Kumari Yadav declared the schedule for the 2017 board examination at a hurriedly-called press conference in Allahabad on Thursday, the EC expressed surprise over the announcement without its consultation in a communique to chief secretary Rahul Bhatnagar.
The commission asked Bhatnagar to announce fresh dates for the exams after consulting it saying that the assembly election is to be held early next year.
Sources said the poll panel has summoned principal secretary (secondary education) Jitendra Kumar and director (secondary education) Amar Nath Verma to New Delhi on Friday for a discussion. UP’s chief electoral officer T Venkatesh will also be present at the meeting.
Kumar confirmed, “that the state government has received a communication from the election commission to cancel the dates of the board examinations announced by UPMSP.”
“We are waiting for further instructions from the EC and fresh dates of the examinations will be announced only after holding consultation with the EC,” he said.
The leader of UP Secondary Teachers’ Association Om Prakash Sharma said that it’s a practice that in the election year, the UPMSP holds consultation with the EC before announcing the schedule of the board examinations.
“I do not understand why the UPMSP officers ignored the tradition when they were aware that assembly election is due next year. UPMSP officers should avoid confrontation with the EC,” Sharma said.
“In 2012 the UPMSP announced the dates of board examination after holding consultation with the EC. The examinations were held after completion of the electoral process,” he added.
Speculations are rife in political circles over the election schedule and the poll panel is tight-lipped over the dates of the assembly election.
“The hurry in which the state and central governments are launching and inaugurating projects shows that the EC will announce the poll schedule in the last week of this month and the election will be held in February/ March,” a senior officer, who did not wish to be named, said.
Other officers counter this version, saying that the preparation for the election is going at slow pace and polling will be held in March/April.
During his visit to Lucknow on September 27, chief election commissioner Nasim Zaidi did not disclose the dates of the assembly election. When asked, he replied that according to the provisions of the Constitution, the assembly election should be held before May 28.
The EC will consider the suggestion of political parties before announcing the dates of the election, he had said.