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ECI replies Kharge, says his allegations on voters’ turnout ‘baseless’

The commission said the Congress President had made caseless allegations regarding the release of voter turnout data in the middle of ongoing polls

KhargeNEW DELHI: Taking a strong exception to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge for writing letter to to INDIA bloc leaders over voter turnout data, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday said that he has been “obstructing” the ongoing Lok Sabha Elections 2024 and is trying to push ‘a biased narrative’ under the guise of seeking clarifications.

The ECI, in a five-page letter along with annexures, a copy of which is with his newspaper, dismissed the charges of mismanagement and delay in the release of voter turnout data. It also termed the Kharge’s allegations “unwarranted”, “without facts” and “reflective of a biased and deliberate attempt to spread confusion”.

The Commission also said that Kharge’s letter has come to its notice, as it has been placed in the public domain in the middle of the ongoing electoral process and has found it “highly undesirable” and designed to create “confusion, misdirection and impediment to the conduct of smooth, free and fair elections”.

“Through innuendos and insinuations, the contents of the post, tend to create disharmony in respect of the delicate space of election management, can plant doubts in the minds of voters and political parties and potentially created an anarchic situation, when you said ‘could this be an attempt to doctor the final results?’ which this Commission hopes you do not have any intention of,” the poll panel said in the letter addressed to Kharge.

It went on to add that utterances can have a negative impact on voters’ participation and demoralise the large election machinery across the country.

The ECI also refuted any delay in giving turnout data and pointed out that updated turnout data has been always higher than the poll day statistics and backed up the claim by releasing a “factual matrix” of data from elections, beginning with the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

With all facts in place, the Congress President is attempting to push a biased narrative, the poll panel noted.

In his letter to INDIA block parties on May 7, Kharge expressed doubts about the poll panel’s functioning and criticised it 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. He wondered whether all this was an effort to “doctor” the final results.

Calling all INDIA bloc 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”, the AICC president had said the delay in publishing the final voter turnout statistics have raised doubts on the quality of data due to which the “credibility of ECI is at an all time low”.

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