Kharge slams EC as row over poll data continues | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Kharge slams EC as row over poll data continues

By, New Delhi
May 12, 2024 07:45 AM IST

Kharge said he has “certain misgivings about the language of the letter” that was released by the EC on Friday.

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge on Saturday said it is surprising that the Election Commission (EC) chose to respond to a letter he wrote to members of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) but ignored complaints raised directly to it, a day after the poll body accused him of “creating confusion” through allegations of discrepancies in voting data for first two phases of the Lok Sabha elections.

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge. (HT photo)
Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge. (HT photo)

Kharge said he has “certain misgivings about the language of the letter” that was released by the EC on Friday, in response to the Congress leader’s allegations on the polling process, but added that he “understands the pressures they (EC) are working under”.

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There was no immediate response from the poll body on Kharge’s latest comments.

On May 6, Kharge had written a letter to leaders of the INDIA bloc, raising concerns over “discrepancies in the voting data released by Election Commission of India” and saying that the “credibility” of the poll body “is at an all time low”. In a 21-page response with a series of annexures, the poll body on Friday rejected the charges of mismanagement and said the letter was an attempt to “create confusion, misdirection and impediments in the conduct of free and fair polls”.

In a letter addressed to the chief election commissioner (CEC) and other election commissioners on Saturday, Kharge said: “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.”

The Rajya Sabha MP said the EC letter, on one hand, says the poll body respects the citizens’ right to ask questions and on the other, “threatens citizens in the form of an advise to exercise caution”. He also hit out at the poll body over its lack of action against alleged communal and casteist statements made by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders to “vitiate the electoral process”.

“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,” he said.

The Congress chief also said he is puzzled by the need to write that the EC is “not legally bound to publish any voter turnout data at aggregate level of a constituency or state”, even though it is factual.

“I am sure many voters of our country would be surprised too. Many voters who are deeply interested in the elections would also like to see the absolute number of votes polled to be put out in the public domain by the Commission directly,” he said.

Also read: Kharge ups the ante against PM before Phase-4 of polling

In his letter to INDIA bloc leaders earlier this week, Kharge said the “credibility” of the poll body “is at an all time low”.

“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. Additionally, 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. 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.

On Friday, the EC told Kharge: “... the Commission has found your communication placed in public domain in the middle of the ongoing election process as highly undesirable and one that appears designed to create confusion / misdirection / impediment to the conduct of smooth, free and fair elections which is the mandate of ECl under the constitution. Therefore, to uphold the integrity of the election process, in the face of an aggression on the vitals of live conduct of election coming from your statements, the Commission categorically rejects your insinuations/ allegations and advises you to exercise caution and refrain in making such statements.”

The EC is already battling concerns from other political parties like the Trinamool Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) over polling data.

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