ECI response to Kharge letter on voter turnout data regrettable: Congress

The ECI took strong exception to Mallikarjun Kharge's letter and termed it as an attempt to "push a biased narrative"

Mallikarjun Kharge released his letter on 7 May (photo: PTI)
Mallikarjun Kharge released his letter on 7 May (photo: PTI)


The Congress on Friday termed as "regrettable" the Election Commission of India's (ECI) "approach" to addressing issues raised by party chief Mallikarjun Kharge in his letter to leaders of opposition parties on the delay in sharing voter turnout data.

In a statement posted on X, Congress MP and general-secretary (communications) Jairam Ramesh said the Congress president had raised "perfectly legitimate" issues on which there have been widespread concern and comments.

"The approach of the Election Commission to addressing these issues is deeply regrettable," the senior Congress leader said.

The ECI took strong exception to Kharge's letter and termed it as an attempt to "push a biased narrative" under the guise of seeking clarifications. Ramesh said the commission's response to Kharge was "simply beyond description".

The commission condemned Kharge's statement in which he wondered whether the delay in releasing voter turnout data was an "attempt to doctor the final results".

The poll panel said it found Kharge's letter, placed in the public domain in the middle of the ongoing electoral process, "highly undesirable" and designed to create confusion, misdirection and impediment to the conduct of smooth, free and fair elections.

"The EC is a Constitutional body entrusted with the responsibility of being an impartial body that ensures, and is seen to ensure, a level-playing field to all political parties," he said.

"Both the content and intent of the letter will be a permanent blot on the reputation of an institution that can boast of luminaries like Sukumar Sen, T.N. Seshan, J.M. Lyngdoh and others," Ramesh said.

Fellow Congress leader and former Union minister P. Chidambaram said the Election Commission is not beyond criticism. "When the RBI, C&AG, Finance Commission and other bodies can be criticised, why does the ECI think it should not be criticised?" he said.

The former Union minister called for a discussion in Parliament on the omissions and commissions of the Election Commission and said all the political parties will share their experiences of contesting the elections under the current poll authority.

"Even T.N. Seshan was criticised. Why should the present three-member take offence?" Chidambaram asked. The Congress leader said Kharge had raised valid points in his letter and the commission could have refuted the same. "...but why take exception to the letter?" Chidambaram wondered.

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