‘Escape mechanism…’: Congress says EC withholding voter data; poll panel says application ‘misleading’ | India News

NEW DELHI: The Congress criticised the Election Commission (EC) on Thursday for withholding voter data from the public and accused the poll panel of failing to fulfill its constitutional obligations as well as exhibiting a biased inclination.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi accused the EC of attempting to act as the “election department” of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by not addressing complaints of model code violations by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah.Instead, the EC has been issuing generalized directions to political parties, which Singhvi referred to as “false equivalences.”
Singhvi’s remarks followed the poll panel’s submission of an affidavit to the Supreme Court, in which the commission stated that the “indiscriminate disclosure” of polling station-wise voter-turnout data and its publication on the EC website would lead to chaos in the ongoing Lok Sabha election machinery. Singhvi argued that the EC’s actions regarding complaints against top BJP leaders and its refusal to disclose voter data are not befitting of a high-level constitutional institution.
“This is against the constitutional responsibilities of the institution. This is the Election Commission, not the election agent of any party. When a constitutional institution does not follow the Constitution and shows inclination towards power, then it should be understood that this is the end of democracy,” Singhvi said.
“We are not asking the EC about EVMs (electronic voting machines) but about disclosure of data. Through this stand in its ridiculous affidavit, the EC is falling into the BJP’s trap to orchestrate decimation and destruction of electoral democracy,” he added.
Singhvi alleged that the reply filed by the EC in the apex court is just an ‘escape mechanism’
“This reply of the Election Commission is just an escape mechanism. Whereas anyone can get this data by paying money to the Election Commission,” Singhvi alleged.
‘Will cause chaos; application is misleading, false and based on mere suspicion’
Earlier, EC had filed a counter affidavit in the Supreme Court, opposing the demand made by an NGO to upload polling station-wise voter turnout data on its website within 48 hours of the conclusion of polling for each phase of the Lok Sabha elections. The NGO, ‘Association for Democratic Reforms’, has also sought a direction to the poll panel to upload scanned legible copies of Form 17C Part-I (Account of Votes Recorded) of all polling stations immediately after the polls. The matter is scheduled to be heard by a vacation bench of Justices Dipankar Datta and Satish Chandra Sharma.
The Election Commission’s 225-page affidavit said, “It is submitted that if the reliefs sought by the petitioner is allowed, it will not only be in teeth of the aforesaid legal position but will also cause chaos in the election machinery which is already in motion for the ongoing General Elections to the Lok Sabha, 2024.”
“This indicates that the allegation of discrepancies in voter turnout data made by the petitioner in the main petition as well as the present application is misleading, false and based on mere suspicion,” it added.
‘Can plant doubts in the mind of voters and political parties’
The poll panel had earlier also refuted the grand old party’s claims of delaying in the release of the final voting percentages for the initial phases of the Lok Sabha elections, suggesting that such delays cast doubts on the credibility of the data provided by the poll panel.
“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 mind of voters and political parties…” EC said in response to a letter written by Congress president Kharge questioning the rationale behind EC’s delay in releasing the voter turnout data for the first two phases of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
(With inputs from agencies)

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