YSRCP complains against Prashant Kishor, journalist Ravi Prakash for airing opinion poll

YSRCP complains against Prashant Kishor, journalist Ravi Prakash for airing opinion poll

RTV journalist Ravi Prakash hosted a show with Prashant Kishor just a day before Andhra Pradesh went to the polls, in which the political strategist predicted that the YSRCP would lose.

The YSRCP on Monday, May 13, filed a complaint with the Election Commission of India seeking criminal action against political consultancy group I-PAC’s founder Prashant Kishor and RTV journalist Ravi Prakash for telecasting opinion polls on the Andhra Pradesh Assembly and Parliamentary elections, a day before the state went to the polls. During the ‘silent period’ – 48 hours before the polling – election-related content is not allowed to be published or aired.

RTV, a Telugu digital website founded by Ravi Prakash, hosted an interview with Prashant Kishor on May 12 in which the political strategist predicted that the YSRCP would lose the elections while the channel showed projections of the poll results. Prashant said that Jagan Mohan Reddy’s party would win only 51 Assembly seats.

Andhra Pradesh has 175 Assembly seats. During the interview, RTV made projections that the YSRCP would win only 67 seats in the Assembly elections, while the TDP and BJP combine would win 106 seats. Similarly, they projected that out of the 25 Lok Sabha seats, the TDP would win 15 seats while the YSRCP would win only 8 seats.

Taking objection to this, the YSRCP said that the content of the show was aimed at influencing the voters just a day before the elections. “...The interview between its anchor Mr Ravi Prakash and Mr Prashant Kishor is ostensibly in the nature of genuine news item but is for the sole purpose of influencing the voters at the crucial time of the ensuing elections as the polling date is approaching.” The party said that the telecast was in “blatant violation” of Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act. 

As per section 126 of the RP act, “no person shall display to the public any election matter by means of cinematograph, television or other similar apparatus; or propagate any election matter to the public by holding, or by arranging the holding of, any musical concert or any theatrical performance or any other entertainment or amusement with a view to attracting the members of the public thereto, in any polling area during the period of forty-eight hours ending with the hour fixed for the conclusion of the poll for any election in that polling area.”

Section 126 (1) (b) clearly mentions that TV/Radio channels/cable networks/internet websites and social media should ensure that the contents of the programme telecast/broadcast/ displayed by them during the period of 48 hours including views/appeals by panelists/ participants that may be construed as promoting/ prejudicing the prospect of any particular party or candidate(s) or influencing/affecting the result of the election.

The YSRCP claimed that Prashant Kishor had a “malafide intention” against Jagan and expressed it through the interview.

“In the said interview, Mr Prashant Kishor has intentionally shared the opinion about the results in AP Elections and expressing his anguish and wrath on YSRCP in the manner as if his views are in favour of main opposition party i.e., the Telugu Desam Party,” (sic) the letter read. 

The YSRCP alleged that Prashant Kishor expressing such an opinion a day before the polling day was a criminal conspiracy by TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu. The party also alleged that journalist Ravi Prakash deliberately asked leading questions to the political strategist, instigating him to make statements against YSRCP and its chief Jagan Mohan Reddy.

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