The Congress has urged the Election Commission to take strict action against the alleged airing of “sponsored” opinion polls on the Gujarat assembly election ahead of voting in the first phase on Thursday and claimed it was a brazen attempt to influence the electorate. A delegation of Congress leaders led by AICC legal cell head Vivek Tankha met the Election Commission and apprised the poll body of the “violations by media”.
The opposition party urged the EC to take action against news channels violating directions issued by it in respect of programmes related to the dissemination of election results. They alleged that the media channels were predicting the poll outcome in a bid to influence the voters and this was a serious issue. Tankha also claimed that they have information concerning the “safety of the ballot boxes” and urged the Commission to ensure there is no tampering.
The Congress said it has observed that certain news channels have been publishing/publicising programmes related to the dissemination of results for the 2022 Gujarat Legislative Assembly. “These programmes are publishing ‘opinion polls’ favouring one particular party over the other. The programmes and their result prediction about the prospects of the various political parties in the Gujarat elections clearly aim to influence the electors of the constituencies going to polls,” the memorandum said.
“The Commission must enforce what it commands. We request this Commission to utilise its powers under Article 324 of the Constitution of India to address the issue by passing immediate directions to the news channels,” the memorandum also said.The Congress leaders urged the EC to act with urgency as these violations undermine the sanctity of electoral laws and the authority of the Commission.
“We all went to the Election Commission and told it that the level playing field is being disturbed by the media. Ahead of polling tomorrow, they are giving results methodically, as if the result has come beforehand,” Tankha said.He said the exit polls are banned and predictions are banned, but still this is being done.
“There is no fear of the Election Commission. The EC was worried about this issue and has assured us it will look into it as it was a serious matter. They also said that since this is a public interest issue, they will look into the steps to be taken in the future to check this,” he said.
Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate alleged that some channels were indulging in putting out opinion polls almost 48 hours before Gujarat goes to polls in the first phase.
“The opinion polls which are giving region-wise predictions, it is very methodical that they are almost predicting what the results will be. This is nothing but a blatant and brazen attempt to influence the voting pattern. And, this weakens our democracy,” she said. Shrinate also said that they have brought this before the Commission and “the Commission has assured us that they will look into this matter and seemingly at a future date, they would perhaps look into the legal provisions as well”.