BJP blasts Congress support for ban on pre-poll surveys news
05 November 2013

The Bharatiya Janata Party, India's leading opposition party, on Monday slammed the move supported by the government to ban pre-election opinion polls, saying it is an attempt to suppress bad news with several state elections around the corner and general elections due in around six months.

The Congress, which leads the United Progressive Alliance government, has fared badly in several recent surveys, which show the party on the back foot in state as well as national elections.

"What is the authenticity, what is the scientific process all these agencies are adopting in predicting (results with) these polls?" Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said in a television interview.

The BJP riposted by saying that restricting opinion polls is neither constitutionally permissible nor desirable, as they are a part of the right to free speech. Arun Jaitly, leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said only losers demand a ban on pre-poll surveys.

Jaitly said that though psephology is still a maturing science in India and some opinion polls do go wrong, this does not mean they should be banned.

Singh had said opinion polls could influence voters to back candidates seen as winners. He also claimed a polling company had asked him for a bribe to get a favourable result. He did not give details.

The Congress on 30 October backed a proposal by the Election Commission to restrict opinion polls once election dates are announced. Currently, such polls are banned 48 hours before voting begins.

In the run-up to the last national election in 2009, most opinion polls by large agencies correctly forecast the Congress would win more seats than the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but underestimated the size of its winning margin. The Congress-led coalition won 262 seats, which was more than any poll predicted.

"When the trend of opinion polls is adverse to the political parties, they rubbish them. They start demanding a ban," Jaitley said in a statement in response to Digvijay's comments. "A potential loser in an election cannot seek to alter the rules of free speech."

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BJP blasts Congress support for ban on pre-poll surveys