Cong move for restrictions on opinion polls during elections draws Opposition ire

New Delhi, PTI | Updated : 04 November 2013, 08:01 AM

Congress has backed Election Commission's views on restricting publication and dissemination of opinion polls during elections, saying the random surveys are "erroneous", "lack credibility" and could be "manipulated" by vested interests.

The EC had last month sought views of various political parties on the issue of banning opinion polls after the government asked it to hold fresh consultations on the issue.

In a written reply to the Commission on October 30, the Congress party said that it "fully endorses the views of the Election Commission of India to restrict publication and dissemination of opinion polls during the election".

"In fact the opinion polls during election are neither scientific nor is there any transparent process for such polls," said the Secretary of the AICC Legal and Human Rights Department K C Mittal in the party's official response to the EC.

The party said that the random survey conducted "lacks credibility" and could be "manipulated and manoeuvred" by persons having "vested interest".

The opinion polls do not help in strengthening the democratic institutions and more often than not are "erroneous" as they do not represent the views of the majority of the electorate, it said.

"These are contrary to the basic electoral concept and process undertaken by the ECI in discharge of its obligations. As such we appreciate the initiative taken by ECI," Mittal said.

The poll body had asked various recognised national and state political parties to give their views on the issue by October 21.

At present, there is ban on opinion polls starting from 48 hours before voting.

"The Commission desires that the views of your political party on the proposal to prohibit conducting opinion polls and disseminating results thereof during the election period may be communicated to the Commission. This may kindly be done latest by October 21, 2013," said an EC letter to presidents/ general secretaries/chairpersons of all recognised parties.

Prior to that the EC had submitted a proposal to the government to ban opinion polls which was turned down on the plea that the poll body should hold fresh consultations with parties on the issue.

BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal on Sunday slammed Congress for its view that restrictions should be placed on the publication and dissemination of opinion polls during election time, saying the reason behind the party's stand was that the survey findings were not in its favour.

"The message does not die if one kills the messenger. Today, the message is against the mis-governance of Congress, and that calls for a change.

"Today, you will say opinion polls should be banned. Tomorrow, you will say public meetings by opposition parties should be stopped. What message is the Congress trying to send out?" BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

However, the move by Congress drew opposition ire as SAD MP Naresh Gujral said that since the results of the opinion polls went against Congress, the party had chosen to oppose such exercises. "The same Congress party was all for opinion polls while the wind was blowing in their direction. Now that they have lost support of the people, they are saying ban these surveys," Gujral said.

The Rajya Sabha MP noted that "when the opinion polls were being manipulated by Congress" in Punjab, SAD had complained and asked for a ban on them, but Congress had opposed that demand.

"Now that the shoe is pinching them they are asking for a ban," Gujral said.

In a letter to Election Commission on October 30, Congress had said it, "fully endorses the views of (the Commission) to restrict publication and dissemination of opinion polls during election (time).

"In fact, opinion polls during elections are neither scientific nor is there any transparent process for such surveys," secretary of the AICC's legal and human rights department, K.C. Mittal, had said in the party's official letter to the commission. 

First Published: Monday, November 04, 2013 07:54 AM
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