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Look who does NOT want your opinion anymore

November 05, 2013 12:16 IST

Look who does NOT want your opinion anymore

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The Election Commission of India had recently had sought the views of the political parties on restricting publication and dissemination of opinion polls during elections.

The deadline for receiving that response expired on Sunday. Here’s a round up of what major political parties had to say about the EC’s query.

We start off with India’s grand old party, the Congress.

Sonia Gandhi’s Congress party, in its response, said that random surveys "lack credibility" and could be "manipulated and manoeuvred" by people with "vested interests".

The party said it that "fully endorses the views of the Election Commission to restrict publication and dissemination of opinion polls during election (time)."

"In fact, opinion polls during elections are neither scientific nor there is any transparent process for such polls," the Congress said

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However, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party saw it in different light.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley said today that though psephology is still maturing in India and some opinion polls do go wrong, it does not mean they should be banned.

"If the polls can be legitimately banned in this country, the next step would be to ban political commentators from giving assessments favourable to some and adverse to some others. A potential loser in an election cannot seek to alter the rules of free speech," Jaitley said.

"There are opinion polls and opinion polls. Some have acquired credibility and some can easily be ignored. Some are cases of even 'participatory psephology'. Whatever may be the reliability or otherwise of these polls, can they be prohibited or banned?" he said in an article.

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Communist Party of India-Marxist leader and Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury said, "Our belief is, if one wants to conduct opinion polls let them do it... Many parties conduct opinion polls to judge the position of their candidates. However, the results should not be published after the election process starts."

He added that it was the "prerogative of the Election Commission to decide the time of limit."

"There should be a ban on campaigning and spreading canards that happens through these opinion polls. There should be a time limit that until the elections are over one cannot publish these opinion polls," Yechury said.

BJP's ally, Akali Dal as well as the Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam have supported the ban on opinion, especially once the elections are announced and Model Code of Conduct comes into force.

Akali Dal seemed to be speaking of different tones. While Party spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema said that opinion polls 'should be banned as they are manipulated and affect the outcome of poll results', Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal tweeted, "Because they (Congress) are losing badly that’s why the party is seeking a ban, they don't want public to see results."

Trinamool Congress, the ruling party in West Bengal, said it would go with the Election Commission on the issue.

UPA ally Nationalist Congress Party does not favour a ban on opinion polls, but wants a body like the Press Council to ensure that they are "not sponsored" like paid news.

Party leader and Union minister Tariq Anwar said that while the party does not want a ban, but at the same time it should be seen that there are no sponsored opinion polls, which affects not only the credibility of the media, but also healthy democracy

"Since media is free, bodies like Press Council should see that the opinion polls are conducted in an objective manner and that they are not sponsored to project a certain view point," Anwar said.




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