For a brief while it appeared as if the Election Commissioner H.S. Brahma was not on the same page with the Election Commission (EC) on the subject of broadcast/telecast/publication of exit polls when he said that they cannot be released before the day of counting on May 16.
The last phase of the current general election ends at 6 p.m. on May 12 and could stretch for some more time if the voters are in the queue outside a polling booth. Under the current law exit poll results can be released half-an-hour after the last phase of polling.
Responding to questions at an interactive session with Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) in New Delhi on Friday Mr. Brahma maintained that exit poll outcome cannot be made public till the date of counting as there could be cases of re-poll in the constituencies which go to poll on May 12.
However, the Election Commission immediately clarified that the ban is valid only till the end of the last phase of polling on May 12.
“Exit poll is prohibited till half-an-hour after closing of the poll on May 12 (the last day of the nine-phased polling),” the Commission said in a statement.
“In a multi-phased election, the ban begins on the hour the poll is fixed and ends half-an-hour after the poll ends in the last phase,” according to Dhirendra Ojha, Director in the EC.
Earlier Mr. Brahma had said, “You are not supposed to conduct exit polls before May 16th — the counting day... We will not allow you to open your mouth before 16th evening. On the evening of 16th you can openly telecast the exit polls... Exit poll is only after counting. What is the hurry? Hardly, there are 150 hours (between May 12 and May 16).”