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Sparring over opinion polls

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Political parties today sparred over the issue of opinion polls, with BJP saying only losers demand a ban on such surveys even as the Congress said it never sought such a prohibition.

CPI(M) said it has no objection on conducting of the opinion polls but the results should not be published once the election process starts. It also cautioned against manipulation of such polls.

AICC wrote to Election Commission last week favouring restriction on the publication and dissemination of opinion polls during polls while noting that the random surveys were "erroneous", "lack credibility" and could be "manipulated" by vested interests.

Commenting on this, BJP leader Arun Jaitley said today that though psephology is still maturing in India and some opinion polls do go wrong, it does not mean they should be banned.

"If the polls can be legitimately banned in this country, the next step would be to ban political commentators from giving assessments favourable to some and adverse to some others. A potential loser in an election cannot seek to alter the rules of free speech," Jaitley said.

"There are opinion polls and opinion polls. Some have acquired credibility and some can easily be ignored. Some are cases of even 'participatory psephology'. Whatever may be the reliability or otherwise of these polls, can they be prohibited or banned?" he said in an article.

Congress, on the other hand, said it has not sought a ban but only expressed its view favouring prohibition on such surveys which some of its leaders dismissed as a "racket", "farce" and "manipulated" exercise.

Congress spokesman Meem Afzal said there is an attempt to portray that Congress is opposing opinion poll. "This is wrong. We did not say anything on our own. Off course we have given our opinion."

He said the Congress only endorses the view of the EC on the issue.

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First Published: Mon, November 04 2013. 19:21 IST