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EC won't ban exit polls

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | April 21, 2004 01:10 IST

The Election Commission of India will not ban exit polls in the absence of a relevant legislation that gives it powers to do so.

The Congress party has been demanding a ban on such polls saying it would provide a level playing field for all political parties during elections.

"The Commission feels that in the absence of a regulatory mechanism and a legislation to support such action, it cannot ban exit polls," EC spokesman A N Jha told newspersons at the end of the first phase.

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Most television channels had started broadcasting the results of their exit polls at the end of polling at 1700 IST on Tuesday.

Discussing the polls, the Commission sought to play down the level of violence in the first phase of voting claiming, "Barring a few incidents of violence and snatching of Electronic Voting Machines in some states, polling was by-and-large peaceful.

"The poll percentage was consistent with previous elections. These are tentative figures and may rise when we get all the reports from the chief electoral officers of 15 states and Union Territories where polling took place on Tuesday."

A repoll would be held on Wendesday in booths where there was an attempt to capture the booth or the EVMs were snatched by miscreants.

The Commission has invited representatives from the election commissions of Australia, Mauritius, Malaysia, Mexico, Venezuela, South Africa and Russia to witness the election process in India.

"We have a reciprocal arrangement with these countries. Their representatives would be guests of the Election Commission of India and would visit various states during the course of the elections," Jha said.

He revealed that a representative of the US embassy was in the Baramulla parliamentary constituency when voting was taking place there. Similarly, a member of the United Kingdom's high commission was in Gujarat to get a first hand account of the voting.

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