BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Monday termed Congress' favouring a ban on opinion polls as "utterly puerile", he also appealed to the people to "reject the anti-democratic Congress not only in an opinion poll but at the polling booth as well."
"If you ask me, the solution is much simpler. Rather than cope with these authoritarian and subversion tactics of the Congress, it is better we reject the anti-democratic Congress not merely in an opinion poll but in the polling booth where it matters the most," Modi today wrote on his blog titled 'Today Opinion Polls, What next'.
Congress had last week written to the Election Commission favouring restriction on the publication and dissemination of opinion polls during polls while noting that the random surveys were "erroneous", "lack credibility" and could be "manipulated" by vested interests.
"Those who have followed Indian politics and the workings of the Congress party after Independence would agree that the stand of the Congress party does not come as a surprise," Modi
"The biggest casualty of the Congress party's arrogance while in power and its tendency to trample over institutions has been our fundamental right to free speech," he added.
The Gujarat Chief Minister also said that "to resort to extreme steps simply because the opinion polls do not tell what we may want to hear is utterly puerile."
"My concern is not limited to this proposal to ban opinion polls. Tomorrow, the Congress may seek a ban on articles, editorials and blogs during election time on the very same grounds. If they lose an election, they may then seek a ban on the Election Commission and if the courts do not support them then they may say why not ban the courts! After all, this is the party that resorted to imposing the Emergency in response to an inconvenient court verdict," Modi wrote in a stinging criticism of Centre.
On opinion polls, he wrote that he didn't have any particular affinity for them.
"In fact, I am quite aware of their limitations. Our enlightened pollsters made assertions about how Gujarat will vote against BJP in 2002, then again in 2007 and even in 2012 with such great confidence only to be proven incorrect by the people," Modi wrote on his blog regarding opinion polls.
Invoking Bhishma in Mahabharata and Kautilya in Arthashastra, Modi said "we have been taught how important it is for those in government to be attuned to public opinion. A government that is in denial over where the public opinion really stands is doomed to be thrown out of power."
Opinion polls in India, Modi wrote, have a mixed record. "They get their predictions right sometimes and not so right some other times. It is up to us as political parties to determine what to do with the findings of an opinion poll," he said.
"If the poll is favourable, we are free to become complacent or we can continue our work on the ground without becoming over confident," he added.
Modi further said if they "are not favourable to us, we are free to reject the numbers and remain in denial mode or we can choose to take corrective action where it merits".
Modi also attacked the Centre for issuing an advisory for reportedly comparing his speech to that of the Prime Minister on the Independence Day.
"At a time when the nation is reeling under high prices and unemployment is rising, we have this shameful spectacle of a central ministry writing to mediapersons regarding the television coverage of the PM's Independence speech on August 15th, that too, two months later," he said.
"This is clearly a case of terribly misplaced priorities. Energy is being wasted on non-serious issues by this government instead of addressing the pressing issues of national importance," Modi wrote in the blog.