SP urges poll panel to ban UP opinion polls
The state president of the Samajwadi Party, Naresh Uttam Patel, in a short letter to the ECI asked for a “ban, with immediate effect” on the opinion polls.
The Samajwadi Party (SP) on Sunday wrote to the Election Commission of India (ECI) seeking a ban on opinion polls being aired by television news channels, claiming that these could affect the outcome of the elections.
The state president of the SP, Naresh Uttam Patel, in a short letter to the ECI asked for a “ban, with immediate effect” on the opinion polls.
Patel, also marking a copy of the letter to the chief electoral officer (CEO), UP, wrote in Hindi: “The state is going to have polls in seven phases for which the last date of polling is on March 7 and counting of votes will be held on March 10. Several television news channels are running opinion polls that are misleading the voters, and the elections are getting affected. At the same time it is also an open violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) for elections...So for the free, fair, fearless polls it is necessary to ban opinion polls...”
By law, TV channels are allowed to run opinion polls ahead of the polls, but not allowed to run exit polls (those conducted after elections) till all phases of voting are over in a multiphase election. That would mean that legally, the TV channels are allowed to run opinion polls ahead of the polls.
Election Commission officials did not immediately respond to HT’s request for comment.
The ABP-CVoter opinion poll this month predicted that the BJP and its allies will win with 223-235 seats in the state, with SP and its allies coming in second with 145-157 seats. The poll predicted the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress will trail with 8-16, and 3-7 seats, respectively.
The Zee-DesignBoxed poll gave similar results.
This has worried the SP, considered to be the main competition to the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party. UP votes in seven phases between February 10 and March 7 with the results on March 10.
SP spokesperson Abdul Hafiz Gandhi said: “What’s the point in having an election, if TV channels are issuing verdits like this that might affect voters’ mindset. It is necessary to ban the opinion polls to make it a level playing field for all in the fray.”
Manveer Singh Chauhan, Uttarakhand BJP spokesperson, said the party did not see any problem with opinion polls as they reflect the mood of the people. “If opinion polls are held in the right way, I think they tell you what people are thinking about different parties and governments,” he said.
The party’s media incharge, Manish Dixit, hit out at the Samajwadi Party, saying, “If they had their way they would have stopped the electorate from delivering mandate in 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls, in 2017 UP polls too. The Samajwadi Party doesn’t believe in constitution, nor on constitutional bodies and now has problems with poll surveys by independent news channels too.”
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