INDIA bloc leaders to meet EC over voter turnout, other issues

New Delhi, May 8 (PTI) Leaders of the opposition INDIA bloc are likely to meet the Election Commission on Friday over their demand to promptly release the absolute voter turnout figures in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls after each phase, sources said.

While the sources had earlier said that the meeting was scheduled for Thursday, it was later changed to Friday.

The opposition leaders will also raise the issue of alleged “use of religious symbols” by the BJP in its campaign, the sources added.

INDIA bloc parties, including the Congress, Trinamool Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), have written to the poll panel separately so far, expressing concern over the alleged “delay” in the release of the voter turnout data in the first two phases.

Amid the opposition’s allegations, the poll body had asserted that booth-wise data of the “actual number of votes polled” is available to the candidates soon after the voting ends.

In a statement issued last week, the EC also said it attaches “due importance” to the timely release of voter turnout figures after each phase of the poll, and said not just constituency, but booth-wise data of the actual number of votes polled is available with the candidates, which is a statutory requirement.

On Tuesday, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had written to leaders of various opposition parties on the issue of alleged “discrepancies” in the voting data released by the Election Commission (EC).

In his letter, Kharge urged the INDIA bloc leaders to “collectively, unitedly and unequivocally” raise their voice on the issue.

The EC officially shared the turnout figure for the first two phases of Lok Sabha polls on April 30. According to EC figures, a voter turnout of 66.14 per cent was recorded in phase one and 66.71 per cent in phase two of the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.

For the third phase of voting that took place on Tuesday, the EC’s voter turnout app on Wednesday showed that 65.55 per cent voting had occurred.

A press release on Monday by the EC also contained the total number of electors in every seat, along with the voting percentage figures.

Opposition parties have however also sought the details of the number of voters who exercised their franchise.

Various opposition parties have also approached the poll panel over speeches made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders during poll campaigns, alleging that the Model Code of Conduct had been violated.

Based on the complaints made by opposition parties as well as the BJP, the poll panel had earlier issued notices to BJP president JP Nadda and Congress president Kharge over alleged violations of the Model Code of Conduct by leaders from their parties.

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