EDITORIAL

Exit Poll Results

The Election Commission (EC) has done well to direct election officers in each of the 15 districts of Uttar Pradesh that voted last Saturday to file FIRs against the editor of Dainik Jagran after the Hindi newspaper published “online” the results of an exit poll. The Election Commission also asked the election officers to file FIRs against the head of the surveying agency, Resource Development Intertiol (I) Pvt. Ltd. The rules are quite clear on when results of exit polls can be published. Under Election Commission instructions, exit poll results cannot be published till after the last round of elections are over—not just in that State, but even in other States where polls are being held. In other words, exit poll results for Punjab, Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Manipur cannot be published till voting for the current round of elections in these five States ends on March 8 evening. Unfortutely, the results of last Saturday’s exit polls were published at the end of the first phase of polls in Uttar Pradesh, which will vote in six more phases. What has happened is unfortute because such exit poll results influence voting patterns not only in that State but in other States as well. Besides, the publication of exit poll results last Saturday was an act of defiance. Late last month, several days ahead of the vote in Punjab and Goa, the Election Commission had issued an order prohibiting not just dissemition of exit poll results but also the conduct of exit polls between 7 a.m. on February 4 (the first day of polling in the in this round of Assembly elections) and 5:30 p.m. on March 8. The explation offered by Dainik Jagran that the results were published online and not carried in any of the paper’s 37 print editions is ucceptable because even online, they are available to people.