Even as the Chief Election Commissioner announced the dates of the highly anticipated Karnataka elections, a storm was brewing.
BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya tweeted the date of voting and counting of the elections as May 12 and May 18 respectively even before the official announcement was made. When he was called out on Twitter about how he knew the date even before the CEC announced it, he said that it had flashed on Times Now.
This was found to be true, as Times Now put out the flash at 11:06/11:07 am. Kannada channels including Suvarna News, TV 5 Kannada, TV 9 Kannada also have flashed the news around that time.
Even though a Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala called the BJP the 'Super Election Commission', the social media in-charge of the Karnataka Congress, Srivatsav, also tweeted the exact same information as Malviya at the exact time.
This tweets triggered a row, with many questioning the authority of the Election Commission.
On Tuesday afternoon, a delegation comprising Union Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, BJP spokesperson Anil Baluni and BJP Rajya Sabha MP Bhupendra Yadav met the election officials regarding the issue.
Addressing the media after the meeting, Naqvi said that they clarified their stand.
“We met with the officials regarding the matter that happened, regarding a tweet which had the date of the elections. There is a lot of confusion around it. We made it clear to the Election Commission that the dignity, respect, independence and impartiality of the EC is important to us. There should be no sort of attack and nor should there be any loss of dignity. The tweet that was put out by our IT cell head. It was clarified that this was tweeted based on the source of a television channel. It was not his (Amit Malviya) aim to hurt the dignity of the election commission. A similar tweet also put out by a Congress leader at the same time,” Naqvi said.
Amit Malviya also wrote a letter to the Election Commission, reiterating that he had tweeted the information based on the Times Now flash at 11:06 am, and even attached the tweet of Srivatsav.
“As is evident now, the final dates announced by the EC were different from what Times Now had reported, that was the sole source of the information in my tweet.
“I wish to reiterate that I firmly believe in the exclusive constitutional domain of the Election Commission to conduct free and fair elections in the country, and also in the confidentiality and secrecy mandated upon in process of doing so,” Malviya wrote.
On Tuesday evening, the Commission constituted a committee of senior officers of the EC to probe the matter to ensure that "necessary and effective action be taken", and to also suggest steps to avoid such a scenario in the future. According to the statement made by the EC, the Committee will have to give its report within seven days.