Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Poll Panel To M Kharge On Voter Turnout Data


New Delhi:

Reacting strongly to Mallikarjun Kharge’s letter to INDIA allies alleging discrepancies in voter turnout data and stating that the credibility of the Election Commission of India is at “an all-time low”, the poll panel has accused the Congress president of making baseless allegations to “create confusion, misdirection and impediments in the conduct of free and fair polls”.

In a sharply worded and unprecedented response issued on Friday, the Election Commission said that Mr Kharge’s letter was in the form of internal correspondence within a political grouping and, yet, he had made it public – a reference to the Congress president posting it on X. Condemning his question: “Could this be an attempt to doctor the final results?” the panel said it could create an anarchic situation, besides doubts and disharmony.

Addressing the allegations levelled by Mr Kharge, who is also the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, point by point, the EC called them “insinuations and innuendos” and an “aggression on vitals of live election operations”.

On the key claims in Mr Kharge’s letter – that the voter turnout increased by around 5.5% in the first phase and about 5.74% in the second phase and that the date of their release was delayed – the EC said there was no delay and pointed out that the updated turnout data has always been higher than what was released on polling day. The commission backed up this claim by releasing a “factual matrix” of data from elections, beginning with the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

“The very premise that voter turnout data was released late is devoid of facts as it has always been available on the Voter turnout APP. Commission has not changed the design or periodicity of displaying voter turnout data in any manner. Needless to add that polling station wise data of electors and voters is given to agent of the candidate on the day of poll itself at close of poll,” the EC wrote. 

‘Tend To Create Disharmony’

On the Congress president’s other charge that some media reports had claimed that the final registered voters’ list for the next phases had not been made public, the panel said that he would know, “as a senior parliamentarian, a very seasoned politician… and as the head of a prominent National Political Party”  that the EC follows a transparent process of preparation of electoral rolls. 

This, it said, is made stronger by the participation of political parties and candidates at every stage of the process, ensuring that parties know the number of electors at every stage of the electoral cycle. 

Expressing its displeasure with the post, the panel wrote, “Commission wishes you to appreciate that your comments/ observations/ allegations given in the aforesaid post borders on vitiating the constitutionally mandated work of ECI.”

“Through innuendos and insinuations, the contents of the post, tend to create disharmony in respect of the delicate space of election management, can plant doubts in the mind of the voters and political parties and potentially creates an anarchic situation, when you said “could this be an attempt to doctor the final results?” which this Commission hopes, you do not have any intention of. Commission has faith that all stakeholders in Indian elections and most importantly the people of India will hold these observations of yours in equal contempt (sic),” it said.

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