Claiming that it has always been a "victim" of opinion polls in general election, Congress along with AAP also targeted Narendra Modi for supporting such surveys but BJP hit back saying the ruling party wants to "impose undeclared emergency" and "throttle" the voice of the people. (Agencies)
In the letter to Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath, Congress demanded that the Commission invoke its powers under Artcile 324 of the Constitution to ensure free and fair polls by issuing instructions banning opinion polls until expiry of 48 hours from the close of polling for the ensuing Lok Sabha elections.
AICC Legal Department Secretary KC Mittal also sought the Commission's immediate intervention and issuance of appropriate instructions to restrict publication of such opinion polls in view of the sting operation. The party sought the EC's intervention in registering an FIR and debarring those involved.
The development came a day after a television channel claimed that its sting operation had found 11 agencies willing to tweak their survey findings for money. AICC general secretary Ajay Maken, who along with Mittal met the CEC, said it justifies Congress' stand of not sending any of its panelists to television debates on opinion polls.
Targeting BJP prime ministerial candidate over the issue, Mittal said after the meeting, "Today it has been established that blackmoney has a big role in opinion polls. Narendra modi, who talks about blackmoney, is supporting opinion polls."
"Modi should answer as to why he is vitiating the election process by pumping money into the opinion poll surveys. On one hand, he is talking about removing blackmoney and on the other hand he is indulging in it," he alleged. BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain, however, reacted sharply alleging that Congress wants to "throttle" the voice of people of the country.
"It wants to impose undeclared emergency. It wants that people should not be allowed to express their opinion and wants to put a tape on their mouth. Whenever there is an opinion poll in favour of Congress, it has been propagating it. When the opinion poll is against it, it does not like it," he said.
While Congress and AAP demanded a probe into the allegation, Sampath said the EC will look into the issue to consider legal action. The CEC said the Election Commission has in the past given recommendations on opinion polls and it was now for the government to act.
"As far as opinion polls are concerned, Commission has taken a view, not today but ten years back in the year 2004 after they held an all-party meeting. They made their recommendations, subsequently also they collected the views of different political parties which have been given. The ball is in the court of the government," Sampath said.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) asked the Election Commission to frame a code of conduct and set up a regulatory authority to monitor opinion polls.
"There are Standard protocols that are followed in US, UK and Europe and basic details (of the opinion polls) should be made available to the world. These details include ownership and track record of the agency carrying out the survey, details of the sponsor, sampling frame and sampling size," party leader Yogendra Yadav, himself a psephologist, told a press conference in Delhi.
The party also Modi of influencing opinion polls and demanded a probe in the matter. "A criminal probe should be carried out by an SIT which should investigate all opinion polls conducted over the past one year. Also, there are names of some political parties that have cropped up in the sting operation and even that should be investigated," AAP's national convener Arvind Kejriwal said.
Maken said, "The sting operation proves that opinion polls are manipulated and more than 70 per cent of the money being spent on opinion polls is black money. Congress has always been a victim of the opinion polls in general elections.
"In 2004, the opinion polls showed full majority to the NDA and in 2009, the opinion gave only 5 seats to Congress in Uttar Pradesh and on both these occasions, the opinion polls were way far away from reality," Maken further said.
Congress demanded a thorough investigation into where this "blackmoney for opinion polls" is coming from, terming it as a serious issue.
Claiming that it has always been a "victim" of opinion polls in general election, Congress along with AAP also targeted Narendra Modi for supporting such surveys but BJP hit back saying the ruling party wants to "impose undeclared emergency" and "throttle" the voice of the people.