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Code cloud on meeting

- Assam election department frowns on govt-teacher schedule; Bodo leader joins fray

Guwahati, March 28: The state election department has asked the education department to postpone a scheduled meeting with college teachers on the grounds that the model code of conduct is in force.

Sources said the meeting, which was supposed to be addressed by education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday, ostensibly aimed at pleasing teachers by giving an assurance to solve their long-pending demands. However, the election department has raised objections and told the education department to postpone the meeting.

“The election department has viewed the holding of such a meeting at this juncture as a clear case of violation of the model code of conduct since the first phase of Lok Sabha polls in Assam is scheduled for April 7,” a source said.

Yesterday, director of higher education, Phanindra Jidung, had written to the president and the general secretary of Assam College Teachers’ Association (ACTA), inviting them to meet the education minister on Sunday. The unit secretaries of the ACTA were also invited to the meeting, which was supposed to discuss some “urgent” matter.

Office-bearers of the ACTA expressed ignorance about the meeting agenda, but expressed surprise over what led the education department to hold a meeting just a week ahead of the polls.

“The meeting was earlier scheduled to be held at the conference hall of Asam Sarba Shiksha Abhijaan at Kahilipara here today. Yesterday, the meeting was re-scheduled for the same venue on Sunday. Since the matter came to light to the election department (sic) yesterday, it asked the education department today to postpone the meeting,” the source said.

On Tuesday, the Assam Cricket Association had to suspend its annual general meeting, scheduled to be held in Silchar on Wednesday, following a directive from the state chief electoral officer to the Cachar deputy commissioner.

“In the first week of this month, the ACTA had submitted memoranda to chief minister Tarun Gogoi and Sarma reminding them of their commitments made during the 60th annual conference of the association at Chhaygaon College in Kamrup district in October last year. Since the teachers constitute a big vote-bank, the education minister tried to make an attempt to keep them in good humour before the elections by holding a meeting and assuring them that the government would solve their demands after the polls,” the source said.

An official in the directorate of higher education said it would have been an informal meeting. “But we have written to the election department anyway to allow us to go ahead with the meeting.”

The Opposition parties have accused the Congress of violating the code of conduct on the slightest pretext.


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