Maintaining that electors should be given a reasonable time to reflect on who or which party should be voted, it said such a decision would protect the voter "from being unduly bombarded by propaganda and thereby distorting his or her rational voting behaviour."

"In today's India, when the scourge of 'paid news' is on the rampage, the concept of freedom of expression and media freedom to disseminate objective news is gravely distorted to the extent that at times all objectivity of news is sacrificed at the altar of unscrupulous profit making,” senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said in an editorial in the latest issue of party organ 'People's Democracy'.

"In such conditions, the scope for manipulation of opinion polls to unduly and wrongly influence the electorate is immense,” Yechury said.

"Hence, reasonable restrictions on a particular freedom in this Indian context need to be very seriously considered," he said.

Under these circumstances, he said it was fair to suggest that "while there should be no blanket banning of opinion polls, this should not be published for a reasonable period, say, from the date of statutory notification of the election till the polls are completed.

"The length of this period, however, would have to be defined and announced by the Election Commission after serious consultations and deliberations," Yechury said.

He also came down heavily on BJP for changing its stand on the issue, saying in 2004 it had favoured ban on publication of opinion polls after the statutory notification for elections is issued.


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