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Poll war starts with date fight

The 2012 electoral battle in Uttar Pradesh has begun right at the beginning: with the very dates of the poll. The ruling BSP wants to push the polls after April, the Congress wants it earlier.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2011 23:58 IST
Sunita Aron

The 2012 electoral battle in Uttar Pradesh has begun right at the beginning: with the very dates of the poll. The ruling BSP wants to push the polls after April, the Congress wants it earlier.

Wednesday’s announcement of high school and intermediate examination schedule by the education department was read as the government’s spanner in the move to hold polls in February along with other states. Prabha Tripathi, secretary of UP Board of Secondary Education, had announced the exams would begin from March 1 and carry on till April 4.

Barring the BSP, most of the political parties had demanded elections in February in a meeting with the chief election commissioner more than a month ago. The BSP's reluctance to hold the polls in February are political.

Elections for the 10 seats of the Rajya Sabha (RS) are due in early April.

The BSP — with a strength of 217 legislators — wants to push the assembly polls after the RS elections, in case its tally drops. The Congress wants the assembly elections held before the RS polls in hopes of improving its tally of 20.

The Congress also wants the elections to be held after a decision is made on quota for Muslims. Party general secretary Rahul Gandhi has made the commitment to the minority community during his meeting with clerics at Nadwa and elsewhere.

On December 18, Mayawati is also holding a rally of Muslims, Rajputs and Vaidhyas in Lucknow. What if she throws in yet another spanner by announcing quota for minorities in state jobs on the pattern of other states? Obviously, she would have the advantage of conceding the demand first.

A senior official of the education department clarified on Friday that the exam schedule can always be changed if the Election Commission directs. “We need to announce results latest by June 1, so students seeking admission in various universities outside the state don’t suffer,” he said.

Keeping these issues in mind, the EC can’t keep the suspense alive for long. The dates will have to be announced by the end of the month.