Mallikarjun Kharge criticises ECI, wonders whether the delay in releasing poll turnout data is an attempt to doctor final results 

In a letter to leaders of all the INDIA parties, the Congress president has called for collectively raising questions on the issue

Updated - May 07, 2024 09:53 pm IST

Published - May 07, 2024 07:19 pm IST - New Delhi 

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge. | Photo Credit: ANI

Casting doubts on the Election Commission of India (ECI)’s functioning, and criticising the panel for not publishing actual voting data, the delay in releasing poll turnout data, and the non-publication of the final voters’ lists for the upcoming phases, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, in a letter to leaders of all INDIA bloc parties, wondered whether all this was an effort to “doctor” the final results.   

Mr. Kharge called upon all INDIA parties to “collectively, unitedly and unequivocally” raise their voice against such “discrepancies” in a bid to protect the culture of a “vibrant democracy and the Constitution”. 

Criticising the delay in publishing the final voter turnout statistics, which came 11 days after the first phase and four days after the second phase of the Lok Sabha election, on April 30, Mr. Kharge said, that the “credibility of ECI is at an all time low” and the delay raised doubts on the quality of data. 

The election panel, Mr. Kharge said, had not explained why there was a delay in releasing data on the voter turnout, considering the norm so far had been to publish it within 24 hours of polling.

The provisional polling percentages for the first phase, released at 7 p.m. on April 19 for the 102 seats, was about 60%, and for the second phase on April 26 for the 88 seats was 60.96%. But the final figures released on April 30 for the first phase stood at 66.14%, and at 66.71% for the second phase. Mr. Kharge wants the ECI to explain this surge in polling percentages.

Apart from the delay, the Congress President noted that the voter turnout data released by the ECI did not mention “crucial yet related figures”, such as the votes polled in each parliamentary constituency and in the respective Assembly constituencies. “If the voter turnout data was published within 24 hours of voting along with the crucial figures, then we would have known if the increase (of ~5%) had been witnessed across constituencies? Or only in constituencies where the ruling regime had not performed well in the 2019 elections?” he wrote.

Pointing to media reports, Mr. Kharge also said that the final registered voters’ list of the next phases had not been made public. “As the India 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?” he said.

He said the ruling party was worried about the lower turnout numbers. “The entire nation knows that an autocratic regime, drunk with power, can go to any extent to stay in the chair. In this context, I would urge all of you that we must collectively, unitedly and unequivocally raise our voice against such discrepancies, for our only objective is to protect the culture of a vibrant Democracy and the Constitution,” Mr. Kharge said.

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