However party is open to discussing merits of opinion polls and surveys

The Congress has decided that its spokespersons will not take part in any television studio discussion that is centred around an election-related opinion poll.

“In agreement with the stand taken by the Election Commission with regard to opinion polls and surveys,” Congress communications chief Ajay Maken told The Hindu: “ The party will not be participating in programmes that are based on unscientific, opaque and motivated projections.”

The obvious conflict of interest in people like Yashwant Deshmukh and Yogendra Yadav heading agencies that conducted such surveys should be made known to the audience, he added: Mr Deshmukh is related to the late Nanaji Deshmukh, a RSS ideologue and member of the erstwhile Jan Sangh, while Mr. Yadav is now a member of the Aam Aadmi Party.

The Congress, however, clarified that the party “will be open to discussing the merits of opinion polls and surveys,” it will only “not indulge in projections” or participate in programmes that show such opinion polls.

This decision comes amidst the continuing controversy over opinion polls after the EC last month asked the parties whether they agreed with its view that election-related opinion polls should be banned, after the government asked it to hold fresh consultations on the issue.

Slams BJP

“The BJP’s double speak is once again in full display,” a Congress functionary said. “In the fact that it was during the NDA regime in April 2004 that the EC had first mooted the idea of banning opinion polls.”

The BJP had then agreed to it. More interestingly that while the BJP was publicly expressing its support for opinion polls, it had not as yet responded in writing to the EC on whether it endorsed or opposed the suggestion that had come from the commission, he pointed out.

The Congress, in a written reply on October 30 to the EC, had endorsed its views on restricting publication and dissemination of opinion polls during elections. Random surveys, it had said, are “erroneous,” “lack credibility” and can be “manipulated” by vested interests.

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