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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Kharge Writes to Allies, Raises Issue of ECI’s Delay in Releasing Poll Data

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday wrote a letter to the INDIA allies expressing concerns over alleged delay in the publishing of electoral data and urged the parties to work “collectively and unitedly” to ensure the independence of the Election Commission of India (ECI).

Kharge said the delay in publishing the final voting percentages for the first and second phases “raises serious doubts on the quality of data” and it is extremely disconcerting to know, through various media reports, that even the final registered voters list from the third phase onwards is also not released.

“It is in public domain on how the ECI, perhaps for the first time in history, delayed the release of the final voting percentages of the First and Second phase of the Lok Sabha elections…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? Is there an issue with the EVMs?” Kharge said.

He also said that in his electoral life of 52 years, he has never witnessed such a high increment of voting percentages in the final published data.

He pointed out that in the first phase the EC said “that as on 7pm on 19.04.2024, the estimated voter turnout was around 60%, while similarly for the Second Phase (88 Seats), the estimated voter turnout was around 60.96 %. Why is it that on 20.04.2024, the Commission’s projected voter turnout for the First Phase was increased to 65.5% and on 27.04.2024, for the Second Phase the voter turnout data increased to 66.7%. Finally on 30.04.2024, the figures were confirmed at 66.14% for the First Phase and 66.71% for the Second Phase?”

“We ask the Commission – For First Phase, why is there a near increase of ~5.5% in the final voter turnout from date of conclusion of voting (at 7pm on 19.04.2024) to the delayed release of voter turnout data (On 30.04.2024)? For Second Phase, there is a near increase of more than ~5.74% in the final voter turnout from the date of conclusion of voting (at 7pm on 26.04.2024) to the delayed release of data (On 30.04.2024)?” he said.

He also pointed out that apart from the delay, the voter turnout data released by the Commission does not mention crucial figures such as the votes polled in each Parliamentary Constituency and in the respective Assembly Constituencies. “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 wrote.

Kharge demanded that the EC should have not only released the data per Parliamentary Constituency (and respective Assembly Constituencies) but it should have also released the voter turnout data in each polling station. “In fact, with each polling station, Assembly Constituency and Parliamentary, should also mention/publish the complaints which may have been filed by the Political Party?” he added.

“As per the ECI, the Polling Agents of the Candidates have the exact voter turnout data of each polling station. It means that the Commission also has the requisite data of the voter turnout for each polling station; now our question to them is what exactly is precluding the Commission from publishing the same for the people?” he said in the letter.

There was no immediate reaction from the ECI to Kharge’s charges.

Kharge further said, “All these developments cast a dark shadow on the functioning of the Election Commission of India – an institution built with the collective efforts of the Indian State and its people,” he said.

“All the aforementioned facts force us to ask a question – could this be an attempt to doctor the final results?” he added.

He said with recent developments, the credibility of the Election Commission of India (ECI) is at an all-time low and urged the INDIA allies to collectively question the Election Commission on “Why did the Commission delay the release of voter turnout data?”

He maintained that the 2024 Lok Sabha elections is the fight to save democracy and the Constitution and reminded the leaders about the alliance’s “collective endeavour” to safeguard democracy and protect the independent functioning of the Election Commission.

“I would urge all of you that we must collectively, unitedly and unequivocally raise our voice against such discrepancies, for our only objective is to protect the culture of a vibrant Democracy and the Constitution. Let us ensure the independence of the Election Commission of India and make it accountable,” he said.

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Source: HT

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