Faced with a political controversy over its stand seeking a ban on opinion polls, Congress today struck a cautious note, saying it had merely endorsed the Election Commission’s views even as various party leaders slammed these surveys as being a “racket”, “farcical” and “manipulated”.

Reading from a bunch of letters from the Election Commission, party spokesperson Meem Afzal said, “Since (today) morning, there is an attempt to show that Congress is opposing opinion polls.

“That is wrong. We did not say anything on our own. Of course, we have given our opinion... Our party fully endorses the EC view. So, we have given a view when an opinion was sought... We have not written a letter on our own. We have just replied,” he added.

“It is wrong to accuse Congress of demanding it (ban) when EC, which conducts elections, is saying all this. We have only endorsed EC’s opinion,” Mr. Afzal said.

Party general secretary Digvijay Singh, however, minced no words in slamming opinion polls, saying “These have become a farce. They should be banned altogether. The kind of complaints, information that I have got, show that anybody can pay and get a survey as desired.”

Wondering how a few thousand people could predict election trends for a country of 1.2 billion people, he said, “It has become a racket. So many groups have sprung up.”

Union Minister Rajiv Shukla said that opinion polls were also at times “manipulated” and, thus, the party had done the right thing by having opposed it.

To hammer home his point, Mr. Afzal also quoted from the EC letter to parties stating that there could be several manipulated opinion polls, which could impact the voting pattern.

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