Congress leaders Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi on Sunday urged the Centre to reconsider the decision to conduct the Central Board of Secondary Education board exams though the number of coronavirus cases in India are rising every day.

Vadra wrote to Union Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal, asking him to cancel the exams. “I do hope that the government will engage in a dialogue with schools, students and their parents so that a safer way for them to fulfill their educational obligations can be found,” Vadra said. On April 9, Vadra had said the CBSE’s decision to hold the exams was irresponsible.

“Rather than forcing them into a potentially dangerous situation, it would be in the fitness of things for them to be given the support, encouragement and protection that is due to them at this very trying time.”

The CBSE board exams will be held in an offline mode from May 4 to June 7 for Class 10 and from May 4 to June 15 for Class 12. Students have protested against the exams, and over one lakh of them have signed a petition and sent it to the CBSE in this regard.

In the letter, Vadra said that the apprehensions of the students were not unreasonable. “It will be practically impossible to ensure the safety of students at large and crowded exam centres,” she said.

The Congress leader added that the Centre and the CBSE board will be responsible if an exam centre becomes a Covid-19 hotspot. “The government and the CBSE board might want to reconsider whether they are prepared to own the legal liability for students or others who might be severely affected by the disease in the manner,” Vadra said. “Being forced to sit for exams, donning masks, gloves and other protective gear under the specter of a deadly disease will cause unnecessary anxiety to these children and impact their ability to perform as well.”

Rahul Gandhi said that all stakeholders should be consulted before making decisions to hold the exams. “On how many counts does GOI [Government of India] intend to play with the future of India’s youth,” he asked on Twitter.

India reported 1,68,912 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, as the country witnessed another highest single-day count. India’s overall tally of infections since the pandemic broke out last March rose to 1,35,27,717. The toll went up to 1,70,179 with 904 more deaths in the last day. India’s tally of active cases stood at 12,01,009. The number rose by nearly a lakh from Sunday’s tally of 11.08 lakh.