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Hegde opposes exit poll ban

Hegde agreed with the perception that Congress is in favour of the ban as it is "scared" of BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi gaining traction in such polls in recent times

Press Trust Of India  |  Bangalore 

N Santosh Hegde
N Santosh Hegde

Former Supreme Court judge Justice N Santosh Hegde on Wednesday strongly opposed any move to ban opinion polls for the duration of the election process, saying it amounts to "violation" of freedom of speech and expression.

Speaking here, the former Karnataka Loka-yukta rejected contention in some quarters that the electorate might be influenced by such surveys. "People are not stupid, they also know."

"If the argument is that they would influence voters, what about tall claims of political parties about development and that they would come to power with two-thirds majority and promises of that nature? That should also be blocked", he said, but hastened to add that it's impracticable.

Hegde agreed with the perception that Congress is in favour of the ban as it is "scared" of BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi gaining traction in such polls in recent times.

"Obviously. All these years nobody objected (opinion polls). Why did they not stop it then (in previous years)? If you are upset about something, it (seeking ban) is not correct at all," he said.

"It's not an ordinary right; it's fundamental right," he said.

Hegde was unsure if Aam Aadmi Party, headed by his colleague in erstwhile Team Anna, Arvind Kejriwal, which is contesting Delhi assembly elections, would succeed in electoral but nevertheless wished him good luck as he praised him for taking the "first step".

"Kejriwal believes that unless we get into the system, we can't change it. It may be correct. The question is: is it practical for one man to form a party," he said, adding, he (Hegde) believed in the Chinese proverb that even a journey of 1,000 miles should start with the first step.

"So, this is the first step," he said.

But Hegde also acknowledged, "We have many people taking the first step....Swatantra Party..Praja Socialist Party... all have gone down the drain. But we must be positive".

He lauded Kejriwal for the initiative, saying "somewhere, some change should start. Let's hope for the best".

On the debate whether Sardar Vallabh-bhai Patel would have made a better Prime Minister than Jawaharlal Nehru, he said, "I think it's an unnecessary dialogue between two political parties (Congress and BJP) side-tracking all other issues of development and other things."

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First Published: Wed, November 06 2013. 20:27 IST