By S Paul
An opinion poll held before election which asks whom the voter plans to vote for, or an exit poll after the ballots are cast asking voters for whom they actually voted is unconstitutional and anti-democratic. Isn’t an election meant to be an exercise to choose through ‘Secret Ballot’?
The practice seems to be becoming an unlawful tradition of our democratic society and it obviously indicates the impatience of our politicians to know the trend and the sway of the common people. The media makes hay in this illegitimate effort by making the gullible electorate let out their secret. The secret by which the constitution of this nation has empowered its common citizen to admonish the erring leaders or appreciate indulgent ones! If some of these conceited politicians are surprised with the results then it is their punishment.
We know that the poll watchdog in 2004 had approached the Law Ministry seeking an amendment to the Representation of the People Act to provide for a ban on both exit and opinion polls during a period specified by the Election Commission. But it is obvious that no cognizance was taken of this plea and this undemocratic and unconstitutional practice carries on as desired by the politicians and participated in by the media.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has observed that opinion and exit polls have the potential to “influence the electors when they are in the mental process of making up of their minds to vote or not to vote for a certain political party or a candidate. In 1999, the ECI’s order to restrict the publication of opinion and exit poll results was overturned by the Supreme Court, which stated that the ECI did not have such authority. The Representation of the People (Second Amendment) Bill, 2008 seeks to amend these two Acts but for obvious reasons the decision is being dragged on because it does not suit the politicians. We the people must show our own displeasure and impose our will to dispose of by law such practices or otherwise let the government stop playing this charade of voting and wasting tax payers’ money. Let the citizen vote in open for all to see and then face the wrath of the criminalised political leadership.