EC castigates Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, says he is making baseless allegation on voter turnout data

    The Hawk
    May10/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    Congress President Kharge faces criticism from the Election Commission for obstructing Lok Sabha elections with unfounded claims on voter turnout data, as tensions rise between the Congress and ECI amidst ongoing 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

    Mallikarjun Kharge

    New Delhi: In an unprecedented action, the Election Commission on Friday castigated Congress President Kharge for obstructing the ongoing Lok Sabha election.
    The commission said the Congress President had made caseless allegations regarding the release of voter turnout data in the middle of ongoing polls which are designed to create confusion, misdirection and impediments in the conduct of free and fair polls. The commission further said that such utterances can have a negative impact on voters' participation and demoralize the large election machinery across states.

    In a harshly worded rejoinder to the Congress President, ECI Called his statements "aggression on vitals of live election operations". It said that the ECI was determined "to act against developments which have a direct impact on the delivery of its core mandate." The commission takes cognizance of Kharge's letter addressed to leaders of INDI alliance on voter turnout data, and finds it highly undesirable. The commission categorically rejected Kharge's contentions, calling them insinuations and innuendos.
    The ECI asserted that no lapse or deviation in the collection and dissemination of voter turnout data; pilots all past and present procedures and practices; and provided point-by-point counters to reject Kharge's contentions.

    The commission also refuted any delay in giving turnout data and pointed out that updated Turnout data has been always higher than the poll day. The commission provided a factual matrix from the 2019 general election onwards.
    The Commission said it finds a 'pattern' in a series of past and present irresponsible statements from INC and calls it 'disconcerting''. The commission said, with all facts in place, the Congress President is attempting to push a biased narrative
    ECI especially condemned with contempt Kharge's statement, "Could this be an attempt to doctor the final results", and said, it can create an anarchic situation, besides doubts and disharmony.

    On May 7, Mallikarjun Kharge wrote to the leaders of the INDIA bloc over the alleged discrepancies in the voting data released by the Election Commission (EC).
    In his letter, Kharge urged the INDIA bloc leaders to raise their voices against voting data discrepancies, for "our only objective is to protect the culture of a vibrant democracy and the Constitution". The Congress president alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party are 'visibly flustered' and 'frustrated' by the voting trends and their receding electoral fortunes in the first two phases.
    "In this context, 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. Let us ensure the independence of the Election Commission of India and make it accountable.," the letter read.
    In a post on X, Kharge said, "On 30th April 2024, the Election Commission released the final voter turnout data for the first 2 phases of elections for the 2024 Lok Sabha. The data was released 11 days after the first phase of polling (19th April 2024) and 4 days after the Second Phase (26th April 2024). In this regard our first question for the Election Commission is - 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 further said, "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 7 pm on 19.04.2024) to the delayed release of voter turnout data (On 30.04.2024)? For the Second Phase, there is a near increase of more than 5.74 per cent in the final voter turnout from the date of conclusion of voting (at 7 pm on 26.04.2024) to the delayed release of data (On 30.04.2024)?"
    "Apart from the delay, the voter turnout data released by the Commission does not mention crucial yet related figures, such as the votes polled in each Parliamentary Constituency and 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 added
    Three phases of polling have taken place so far with 4 more phases are scheduled. The counting of votes will be held on June 4.