Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | Kharge writes to I.N.D.I.A. leaders on 'discrepancies' in polling data released by EC

In his letter, Kharge urged the I.N.D.I.A. bloc leaders to raise their voice against such discrepancies, for 'our only objective is to protect the culture of a vibrant democracy and the Constitution'.
hemin Joy
Last Updated : 07 May 2024, 06:39 IST
Last Updated : 07 May 2024, 06:39 IST

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New Delhi: Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has written to I.N.D.I.A. leaders wondering whether the Election Commission’s refusal to publish actual voting data, delay in releasing poll turnout data and non-publication of final voters’ list for next phases are an “attempt to doctor” the Lok Sabha election results.

Claiming that the credibility of the EC is “at an all time low” and these developments have “cast a dark shadow” on its functioning, he urged the leaders to “collectively, unitedly and unequivocally” raise their voice against such “discrepancies” to ensure to make the poll body accountable and independent.

“All the aforementioned facts force us to ask a question – could this be an attempt to doctor the final results?” he said in identical letters while insisting that their “only objective” is to protect the “culture of a vibrant democracy and the Constitution”.

He said it was perhaps for the first time that the EC is “yet to release” the actual voting numbers and has “released only” the final voting percentages of the first and second phases of the Lok Sabha election. On April 30, the EC put the first phase turnout at 66.14%, 11 days after polls, and second phase at 66.71%, four days after the voting, but did not provide actual numbers.

Kharge was also not impressed with the EC's argument that polling agents of candidates already have turnout details. He said the EC also has the data through the Presiding Officers.

“Now our question is what exactly is precluding the Commission from publishing the same for the people instead of shifting the responsibility to candidates by saying the polling agents of candidates also have the details of voter turnout?” he said.

“We all know how PM (Narendra) Modi and the BJP are visibly flustered and frustrated by the voting trends and their receding electoral fortunes in the first two phases. The entire nation knows that an autocratic regime, drunk with power, can go to any extent to stay in chair,” Kharge said.

He also said the “inordinate delay” in the release of the final voting percentages for the first two phases raises “serious doubts on the quality of data”.

In his 52-year-old electoral life, he has never witnessed such a high rise in voting percentages in the final published data, that one now assumes came from the later hours of voting on the polling days.

“Why did the Commission delay the release of voter turnout data? On earlier occasions the Commission has published voter turnout data within 24 hours of polling. What has changed this time? Why has the Commission failed to issue any clarification to justify the delay, despite being repeatedly questioned by political parties as well as political activists?” he said.

He said on April 19, the EC had first put the turnout at around 60% at 7 PM and 65% the next but the final figure published on April 30 showed 66.14%. Similarly for the second phase, it rose from the initial around 61% to 66.71%, prompting Kharge to ask the reason for such a rise in figures.

Kharge also questioned the EC for not publishing the voter turnout in actual numbers and the total number of voters. “If the voter turnout data was published within 24 hours of voting along with the crucial figures, then we would have known if the increase (of 5%) had been witnessed across constituencies? Or only in constituencies where the ruling regime had not performed well in the 2019 elections?” he said.

Referring to media reports, he also said the voters list for next phases are not available and will the EC be made answerable for this “glaring mismanagement” in ensuring the minimum standards of free and fair elections.

Published 07 May 2024, 06:39 IST

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