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EC responds strongly to Mallikarjun Kharge's allegations on voter turnout figure, calls them 'baseless'
LS polls
Photo courtesy: Facebook/Mallikarjun Kharge

EC responds strongly to Mallikarjun Kharge's allegations on voter turnout figure, calls them 'baseless'

| @indiablooms | 11 May 2024, 01:25 am

New Delhi/IBNS: The Election Commission has reacted strongly to Mallikarjun Kharge's letter to INDIA allies alleging discrepancies in voter turnout data and accused the Congress leader of making 'baseless' allegations "create confusion, misdirection and impediments in the conduct of free and fair polls".

In a sharply worded response issued on Friday, the poll body said that Kharge's letter was meant for an internal correspondence within a political grouping and, yet, he had made it public - a reference to the Congress president posting it on X.

Condemning his question over voter turnout discrepancies: "Could this be an attempt to doctor the final results?" the panel said it could create an anarchic situation, besides doubts and disharmony.

The Congress has termed the "content and intent" of the response a "permanent blot" on the reputation of the institution.

Senior Congress Leader Jairam Ramesh said the party would take up Kharge's letter and the response during the scheduled meeting of INDIA allies with the Election Commission on Friday.

Addressing the allegations levelled by Kharge, the EC called them "insinuations and innuendos" and an "aggression on vitals of live election operations".

On the key claims in Kharge's letter - that the voter turnout increased by around 5.5% in the first phase and about 5.74% in the second phase and that the data's release was delayed - the EC said there was no delay and pointed out that the updated turnout data has always been higher than what was released on polling day.

The commission backed up this claim by releasing a "factual matrix" of figures from elections, beginning with the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

"The very premise that voter turnout data was released late is devoid of facts as it has always been available on the voter turnout app. The commission has not changed the design or periodicity of displaying voter turnout data in any manner. Needless to add that polling station wise data of electors and voters is given to an agent of the candidate on the day of poll itself at close of poll," the EC wrote.

What did Kharge say?

In his letter, Kharge had alleged that the credibility of the Election Commission of India was at an all-time low and it had, "perhaps for the first time in history", delayed the release of the final voting percentages of the first and second phases of the Lok Sabha elections.

He said the Election Commission had earlier published voter turnout data within 24 hours of polling and wondered what had changed this time and why there had been no clarification. "Is there an issue with the EVMs," Kharge had asked.

Listing out other grievances and urging leaders of other INDIA bloc parties to hold the Election Commission accountable as well as safeguard its independence, the Congress president said, "As the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), it should be our collective endeavour to safeguard Democracy and protect the independent functioning of the ECI. All the aforementioned facts force us to ask a question - could this be an attempt to doctor the final results?"

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