P Chidambaram lambasts Election Commission over Mallikarjun Kharge’s letter, says ‘EC should remember that...’

When RBI, C&AG, Finance Commission and other bodies can be criticised, why does ECI think it should not be criticised, asks Congress leader P Chidambaram.

Written By Akriti Anand
First Published10 May 2024
Former Finance Minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram
Former Finance Minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram (PTI)

Former finance minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram on Friday hit out at the Election Commission (EC) of India for taking exception to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge's letter on “discrepancies in the voting data”. In a post on X, Chidambaram said, "ECI should remember that it is not beyond criticism".

Chidambaram stated, "Mr Mallikarjun Kharge had raised valid points in his letter. ECI may refute them, but why take exception to the letter". He further said, “When RBI, C&AG, Finance Commission and other bodies can be criticised, why does ECI think it should not be criticized.”

What Mallikarjun Kharge claimed

On May 7, Mallikarjun Kharge wrote to the leaders of the INDIA bloc over the alleged discrepancies in the voting data released by the Election Commission. In his letter, Kharge urged the INDIA bloc leaders to raise their voices against voting data discrepancies. He said, "...our only objective is to protect the culture of a vibrant democracy and the Constitution".

In a post on X, Kharge said, "On 30th April 2024, the Election Commission released the final voter turnout data for the first 2 phases of elections for the 2024 Lok Sabha. The data was released 11 days after the first phase of polling (19th April 2024) and 4 days after the Second Phase (26th April 2024)."

"In this regard, our first question for the Election Commission is - Why did the Commission delay the release of voter turnout data? On earlier occasions, the Commission has published voter turnout data within 24 hours of polling. What has changed this time? Why has the Commission failed to issue any clarification to justify the delay, despite being repeatedly questioned by political parties as well as political activists?"

He further said, "We ask the Commission - For First Phase, why is there a near increase of 5.5 per cent in the final voter turnout from date of conclusion of voting (at 7 pm on 19.04.2024) to the delayed release of voter turnout data (On 30.04.2024)? For the Second Phase, there is a near increase of more than 5.74 per cent in the final voter turnout from the date of conclusion of voting (at 7 pm on 26.04.2024) to the delayed release of data (On 30.04.2024)?"

Kharge said that apart from the delay, the voter turnout data released by the Commission does not mention "crucial yet related figures, such as the votes polled in each Parliamentary Constituency and the respective assembly constituencies."

The Congress president alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are 'visibly flustered' and 'frustrated' by the voting trends and their receding electoral fortunes in the first two phases.

"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. Let us ensure the independence of the Election Commission of India and make it accountable. Let us ensure the independence of the Election Commission of India and make it accountable," the letter read.

Read more detail here…

How did EC react?

In an unprecedented action, the Election Commission castigated Congress president Kharge for obstructing the ongoing Lok Sabha election. The commission said on Friday that the Congress president had made caseless allegations regarding the release of voter turnout data. The commission added that such utterances can have a negative impact on voters' participation and demoralise the large election machinery across states.

The EC called Kharge's statements "aggression on vitals of live election operations". It said that the EC was determined "to act against developments which have a direct impact on the delivery of its core mandate."

The commission took cognizance of Kharge's letter addressed to leaders of INDI alliance on voter turnout data, and finds it highly undesirable. The commission categorically rejected Kharge's contentions, calling them insinuations and innuendos.

The commission asserted that there was no lapse or deviation in the collection and dissemination of voter turnout data, piloted all past and present procedures and practices, and provided point-by-point counters to reject Kharge's contentions.

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HomeNewsIndiaP Chidambaram lambasts Election Commission over Mallikarjun Kharge’s letter, says ‘EC should remember that...’

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