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Sunday 7 June 2020

Amit Malviya blames Times Now, repeats mistake of Pramod Mahajan

It may be recalled that the BJP's 2004 campaign was marred by a show of over-enthusiasm by Pramod Mahajan similar to that by Amit Malviya on 27 March 2018; it was one of the reasons for the failure of the 'India Shining' campaign

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New Delhi: Following objections raised by the opposition and some journalists to BJP information technology head Amit Malviya’s tweet this Tuesday announcing the date of Karnataka Assembly election, which was posted before the Election Commission announced the date, he has issued a letter of clarification to the commission to explain what had transpired behind the tweet.

The Chief Election Commissioner had to face this question from a journalist during the press conference where he made the announcement officially. “We will find out what happened and a full investigation will be launched. Let us not speculate on what they have,” Rawat said.

After the press conference, Rawat reiterated that the EC will not take the matter lightly. “Certain things may have leaked for which Election Commission will take appropriate action. It will be investigated. Be assured that actions legally and administratively befitting will be taken.”

Malviya deleted the tweet on coming to know from the press meet of the EC that he had got the date of announcement of the election result wrong.

The head of BJP’s IT cell wrote in the letter that he had evidence of the misleading news on Times Now, which had inspired his tweet.

Malviya said that the social media in-charge of the Karnataka unit of the INC had made the same mistake, perhaps due to the same source of (mis)information.

Words such as “apology” or “regret” have been carefully avoided in the letter. However, Malviya said he respected the EC’s prerogative in such issues.

Exclusive: Before Malviya, there was Mahajan

It may be recalled that the BJP’s 2004 campaign had got affected due to a similar show of over-enthusiasm by Pramod Mahajan. Normally, the EC takes all parties into confidence before deciding upon the date or dates of an election. In such a meeting, the BJP leaders who had met with the EC of the time got the impression that the election would be conducted in March that year.

Pramod Mahajan

Mahajan shared this privileged information with a group of journalists. The EC took it as an act of encroachment upon its territory. In what appeared as its reaction of asserting its authority, the EC announced subsequently that the election would be conducted in April.

The BJP’s advertising campaign “India Shining” was planned in a manner that it would peak at the time of the polls. Due to the delay, the impact of the promotional activity lessened. Worse, it became monotonous, the then media manager of the BJP informed Sirf News. “The opposition got an opportunity to mock at our campaign, and soon they were able to influence voters whose lives hadn’t improved much although the economy, on the whole, was performing well,” Amitabh Sinha, who now practices law at the Supreme Court, High Court and other courts, away from the humdrum of politics, said.

Sinha, the media in-charge of the BJP during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee years, regrets the fact that the campaign that had received accolades from international business schools flopped because of Mahajan’s overzealous conduct.

Surajit Dasgupta
Surajit Dasgupta
The founder of सिर्फ़ News has been a science correspondent in The Statesman, senior editor in The Pioneer, special correspondent in Money Life and columnist in various newspapers and magazines, writing in English as well as Hindi. He was the national affairs editor of Swarajya, 2014-16. He worked with Hindusthan Samachar in 2017. He was the first chief editor of Sirf News and is now back at the helm after a stint as the desk head of MyNation of the Asianet group. He is a mathematician by training with interests in academic pursuits of science, linguistics and history. He advocates individual liberty and a free market in a manner that is politically feasible. His hobbies include Hindi film music and classical poetry in Bengali, English, French, Hindi and Urdu.
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