People in this Uttar Pradesh capital, particularly the board examinees, on Monday had a harrowing time reaching their destinations due to lack of buses owing to the Bahujan Samaj Party's (BSP) rally to mark its 25th anniversary celebrations. Students had to leave for their examination centres a few hours before their papers started.
According to sources, nearly 130 buses from Lucknow have been pressed into service for ferrying BSP workers to Chief Minister Mayawati's rally and back to their native places.
Even as government offices and schools remained closed on account of BSP founder Kanshi Ram's birthday, those appearing for the Indian School Certificate (ISC) board exams (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education or ICSE examination for Class 12) left their homes much earlier than usual to avoid any inconvenience caused by the rally.
Ahead of the BSP rally, the school authorities had already directed students to reach the examination centres four-five hours early.
"We had advised our students to reach four-five hours early at the examination centres in order to avoid any problems," Jagdish Gandhi, founder of the City Montessori School (CMS), told IANS.
"Though I cannot ascertain the exact number of Class 12 students who would be taking their Geography paper I (Theory), I have learnt that students, whose exams would start at 2 p.m., started coming to the school at around 7.30 a.m.," he added.
Diwakar Tripathi, a CMS student said: "I reside in Aliganj locality. To avoid the rush due to the rally, I left home at around 6.45 a.m. I had to hire an auto-rickshaw that charged much more than the prescribed rate to reach the school."
Meanwhile, the authorities claimed that the CMS was the only school whose students were appearing for the board exam Monday as there was not a single student appearing for the "elective papers" of the class 10 and 12 Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Being a public holiday in the state, schools affiliated to the Uttar Pradesh board remained closed.
"There is nothing to worry about. Today (Monday) the exams of class 10 and class 12 boards of CBSE and ICSE are of those papers that are optional. Only a few students are appearing in the exams. We have made proper arrangements for the examinees," District Magistrate A.K. Sagar said.
Meanwhile, a long queue of commuters was seen at the bus stands in various areas of Lucknow.
"I have been standing at the Vikas Nagar bus station for the last 45 minutes. There's not a single bus. I have to catch a train from the Charbagh railway station. It's really a harrowing experience. In fact, this happens during every public rally," R. Narayan, a retired Geological Survey of India (GSI) scientist and resident of Indira Nagar, said.
In the "absence" of buses, auto-rickshaw drivers had a field day as they charged much more than the prescribed fare.