The Samajwadi Party on Sunday appealed to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to immediately ban opinion polls being conducted by news channels for the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. In a letter to the ECI, Naresh Uttam Patel, the Samajwadi Party’s Uttar Pradesh unit chief, stated that opinion polls are in ‘violation’ of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).
“Dates of UP assembly elections 2022 were announced on 8 January, and nominations for the first phase have been filed. Many news channels are showing opinion polls. These are misguiding the voters and influencing the elections. This is also an open violation of the MCC,” Patel wrote in his letter to the poll body.
In October last year, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), too, demanded that the ECI prohibit news channels from conducting pre-poll surveys for a duration of six months before general and state elections, so that electors can exercise their right to vote “freely and fairly,” and without being influenced by “misleading and sponsored projections.”
During election season, media outlets, in partnership with pollsters, carry out opinion poll and exit poll to gauge which party is most likely to win. While the former is conducted in the run-up to the election as indication of the voters’ mood, the latter is done after a voter has actually voted.
The results of such surveys do not necessarily match with the actual outcome.
For Uttar Pradesh, almost all surveys have projected a two-horse race between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Samajwadi Party, with a slight edge to the former.
The state will vote in seven phases 10, 14, 20, 23, 27 February 3 and 7 March. The counting of votes for all 403 assembly seats will be held on 10 March.