New Delhi: In what will come as a shot in the arm for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government, Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati has reportedly told the Centre that pre-poll opinion surveys should be banned, sources said on Monday.
The Congress has already called for a ban on pre-poll surveys and the Law Ministry wants to leave the final decision to the Election Commission.
Election Commission sources have told CNN-IBN that it will consider Congress's request for a ban on opinion polls.
Earlier, Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh asked for opinion polls to be banned. He said, "Opinion polls should be stopped. In a state like Madhya Pradesh which has more than 3 crore voters how can you have a survey with just 2800 people? These should be stopped. Anyone can give some money and get the survey done. These people are not even authorised by the government."
Soon after demanding a ban, the Congress found itself pushed to a corner over a letter written to Election Commission as its rival political parties took a strong exception of the view and reasoned out that the Congress was worried over the results that have predicted a drubbing for the party in the upcoming Assembly elections in five states.
BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy questioned why the Congress was backtracking from its earlier stand supporting opinion polls. "Surveys and opinion polls have been conducted for a very long time but now the Congress is suggesting that it should be banned. There were occasions when they welcomed the opinion polls when they were in their favour. It highlights the insecurity of the Congress," said Rudy.
Rudy also highlighted that the party was aware of a strong anti-Congress wave in the country and was making last ditch effort to improve the situation. Referring to pre-poll surveys which have predicted a drubbing for the party, Rudy said: "They are losing grounds and they are desperate for it to be banned. I don't think there is any actual need for ban, it's an exercise in democracy which is far welcome."
CPI leader A Raja also claimed that the people of the country were tired of the UPA government ruling the Centre. "Congress has reasons to worry about the recent poll surveys which are coming out every now and then because the opinion polls show that Congress is declining and will be defeated," Raja opined.
Shiromani Akali Dal also backed claims of a strong anti-Congress wave in the country. "The same Congress party was all for opinion polls when the wind was in its favour. Now that the party is facing opposition from the people it is asking a ban on opinion polls," said SAD leader Naresh Gujral.
The Congress, however, maintains that opinion polls are misleading. "Such kind of opinion polls are not in the interest of healthy democracy," said Rashid Alvi, adding that his party was only supporting an EC decision to ban pre-poll surveys. Opinion polls have projected a poor show for the Congress in states headed to Assembly polls.
At present, there is ban on opinion polls starting from 48 hours before voting.
The CNN-IBN-The Week survey had shown that if elections were to be held today, the UPA figure would go down to between 134-142 seats against the NDA's 187-195 seats. The Congress would win between 116 to 124 seats as against the BJP's 171 to 179 seats.