‘It is surprising…’: Kharge replies to ECI letter on voter turnout data row | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

‘It is surprising…’: Kharge replies to ECI letter on voter turnout data row

May 11, 2024 08:32 PM IST

This comes after the EC wrote a strongly worded letter to Kharge regarding another letter written by him on Tuesday to leaders of various INDIA bloc parties.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Saturday wrote to the Election Commission of India (ECI), after the poll body expressed serious concern about his recent statement challenging the fairness of the voting process, stating that it was surprising how the commission responded to Kharge's “open letter” while ignoring other complaints.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge (ANI Photo)
Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge (ANI Photo)

Kharge said, “The letter even though an open letter is clearly addressed to our alliance partners and not to the Commission. It is surprising that the Election Commission of India wanted to respond to this letter while ignoring several other complaints given directly to it. I have certain misgivings about the language of the letter, but I will not press on that issue as I understand the pressures they are working under.”

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This comes after the EC wrote a strongly worded letter to Kharge regarding another letter written by him on Tuesday to the leaders of various INDIA bloc parties. In the letter, Kharge questioned the alleged differences in the voting information provided by the EC. He also asked the INDIA bloc leaders to speak out against these supposed differences, stating, "Our only objective is to protect the culture of a vibrant democracy and the Constitution".

Responding to it, the EC said, “Commission fully respects the right to free speech and considers it to be the privilege of political parties and their leaders to correspond and communicate with each other. However, the Commission has a responsibility to act against developments which have a direct impact on delivery of its core mandate of conduct of elections in its entirety till delivery of results.”

In his reply, Kharge questioned the EC stating that on the one hand, it talks about respecting the citizens' right to ask questions and, on the other hand, it was threatening citizens in the form of advice to exercise caution.

“I am happy that the Commission understands that it has the mandate to conduct smooth, free and fair elections under the constitution. However, the lack of urgency shown by the Commission in taking action against blatantly communal and casteist statements being made by the leaders of the ruling party that vitiates the electoral process seems puzzling.”

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He added, “I am also puzzled by the need to write that the ‘Commission is not legally bound to publish any voter turnout data at aggregate level of a constituency or state’, though it is factual. I am sure many voters of our country would be surprised too.”

Kharge said that voters who were interested in elections would like to see the number of votes polled and would want it to be put out in the public domain.

“Finally, I would like to say I am disappointed that the Commission did not quote another line from the letter which said "it should be our collective endeavour to safeguard Democracy and protect the independent functioning of the ECI". To make it more clear, the Congress party is on the side of the Commission and stands for the strength and independence of the Commission. The officials of the Commission should now decide where they stand,” he said.

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