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Karnataka Elections
The Chief Election Commissioner, O.P. Rawat along with the Election Commissioners, Sunil Arora and Ashok Lavasa addressing a press conference to announce the Election Schedule to Legislative Assembly of Karnataka, in New Delhi on March 27, 2018.(PIB)

EC panel finds no wrong with BJP tweet on Karnataka poll

The panel formed by the Election Commission to probe the alleged leakage of the announcement of Karnataka elections has submitted its report stating that there was no leak but only speculation.

The Officers’ Committee, constituted by the Election Commission of India on 27th March 2018 to probe alleged news leak of Election Schedule of Karnataka Elections ahead of the official announcement, has zeroed in to Times Now as the first source and said others, including BJP and Congress IT heads have tweeted it immediately.

The committe said that the leak in public domain was first displayed on Times Now TV news channel and used by all others it has questioned in the probe. Since the date of schedule put out by Times Now as May 12 and counting date as May 18, the information was not correct and based on speculation.

Times Now in its response said, “Channel assessed the details from informed sources. Given that the information was not entirely accurate it is obvious it was not a leak.”

The acutal date of counting as per the Commission announcement was 15th May and not 18th May. The panel said the stakeholders should have restrained from tweeting immediately or telecasting the speculative news.

“It is the responsibility of all the stakeholders including media and political parties not to attempt any speculation that may create unnecessary doubt in the minds of our stakeholders and citizens at large,” noted the panel.

The Election Commission (EC) has also questioned others who tweeted the “leak” of dates — BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya, Karnataka Congress social media in-charge Srivatsa Y.B. and Kannada news channel Suvarna News, who maintained that they got it from Times Now.

Malviya had clarified his source of Tuesday itself while the others responded on Wednesday.

Suvarna News said the news was first broken by Times Now. After few minutes, they took the same news. “We would like to bring to your notice that one more Kannada news channel, BTV, was first to put this news. Then Suvarna News and Public TV aired the news almost simultaneously. Absence of vast network in national capital makes us follow reputed national news (channels). We do not have any source whatsoever inside Election Commission who could leak us the information before the press meet.”

Congress’ Srivatsa also gave similar response. “I hereby clarify that the source of my information was a newsbreak that I saw on Times Now TV channel at 11.06 a.m., which I then used to post my tweet. It’s my submission that my tweet wasn’t intended to infringe upon the constitutional mandate of the EC to conduct free and fair elections,” Srivatsa wrote. He also attached screenshots of Times Now and his tweet.

The EC committee headed by Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha and comprising Deputy Election Commissioners Sandeep Saxena, Sudeep Jain and Chandra Bhushan Kumar, Director General Dhirendra Ojha and Principal Secretary Standhope Yuhlung, probed into the “leak” and found that there was no leak.

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