A day after the Election Commission (EC) constituted a committee of its six senior officers to probe into alleged leak of the Karnataka poll schedule, the Congress criticised the EC for excluding the ruling BJP’s IT cell head Amit Malviya (pic) in the panel’s terms of reference while including the Karnataka Congress’s social media in-charge Srivatsa in it.
The EC’s announcement of Karnataka Assembly poll dates on Tuesday was shadowed by a controversy with Malviya tweeting the voting and counting dates even before Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) O P Rawat, who was then addressing a press conference in the national capital, could declare them.
When this was pointed out to him, the CEC had described it as a “very serious issue”, asserting that the EC will investigate into it and take stringent legal and administrative action.
The reports had then surfaced about Srivatsa also tweeting the same information at the same time as Malviya’s tweet. Both got the polling date right and the counting date wrong.
Both claimed they had picked up their information from certain TV channels. Subsequently, the EC constituted an officers’ panel to probe into alleged dates leak and give its report within seven days. In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Congress’s communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala hit out at the EC on the issue.
“Strange indeed! Has @ECI_India exonerated the ‘date leak’ BJP even before constituting the inquiry? Post ‘data leak’, a ‘date leak’ infringing upon the neutrality of EC, yet no questions being asked. Question is — Why no question from BJP IT head?” Surjewala asked tagging the EC’s Office Order dated 27 March that announced the constitution of the officers’ probe panel.
“Yesterday, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi went to @ECI_India with BJP IT head’s explanation. Surprising that @ECI_India exonerates BJP IT head, who initiated ‘date leak’ & constitutes an inquiry thereafter,” he charged.
Surjewala also tagged the EC’s yesterday press note in his another tweet stating : “Intriguing events on ‘date leak’ & BJP’s role appear on @ECI_India website. 1st EC gives a clean chit to BJP national IT head by keeping him out of purview of enquiry, yet uploads another ‘Press Note’ explaining BJP’s version! Now, who is putting EC’s credibility at stake?”
The Congress leader was apparently pointing to the reference made by the EC’s press note to Malviya’s tweeting the Karnataka poll date while adding that “In another tweet, he (Malviya) also gave a reference of Times Now news channel as his source”.
Meanwhile, the EC’s probe panel met on Wednesday to take stock of the responses received so far. “The Committee received the response so far from the following: Amit Malviya…Times Now TV channel, and Suvarna news channel. The Committee has decided to further examine the responses received so far and take further necessary action in this regard,” said a statement issued by the EC.
PTI adds: BJP’s IT cell chief Amit Malviya, whose tweet declaring the Karnataka Assembly poll date before the Election Commission’s announcement triggered a controversy, and a Karnataka news channel have told the poll panel that the source of their information was Times Now news channel.
Times Now today told the Election Commission that it got the information from “informed sources”. It also said that “given that the information was not entirely accurate, it is obvious it was not a leak”.
The three have responded to a notice by a probe committee set up by the poll panel yesterday to investigate the sources of the leak.
Ahead of the announcement by CEC O P Rawat yesterday morning, Malviya had tweeted that voting will be held on May 12 and the counting will take place on May 18. He was correct about the day of the voting, but got the counting date wrong.Counting is on 15 May, according to EC.