Instead of banning, EC should bring transparency and standardization in opinion polls

Opinion polls were conducted for the first time before the 1957 general elections by the Indian Institute of Public Opinion, headed by Eric da Costa, hailed as the pioneer of the exercise in India. In the past 20 years, the publication of opinion polls has become a regular affair.The question of wheat opinion polls should be banned has split the political class, while opening a fresh front between the Congress and BJP.

In fact, the Congress is making this demand as they have sensed the crushing defeat they will face in upcoming Assembly elections in five states, after which they are going to meet the same fate in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. It is an admitted fact that only losers demand ban on opinion polls.

The Election Commission believes that opinion polls negatively impact the actual voting pattern of the electorate and thus could be an impediment in free and fair elections. The Congress party too believes the same. Agreeing with the editorial that ban is not the solution as one has right to express his opinion in a democratic country but insisting of transparency and standardization could be acceptable to all the parties including the major political parties.

The Congress should not forget that if surveys could so largely influence voting patterns, then the NDA would not have lost power in 2004.The EC has proposed that opinion polls be banned from the day the Commission announces poll dates till the final phase of polling. Opinion polls are in any case meaningless after elections have been held.
Before going into merits of the ban, consider one simple fact. The real test of pollsters is to do an opinion poll and prediction close to the elections.It is not understood as to what’s wrong in opinion polls even if they do affect the behavior of voters. The counter argument could be that democracy is all about making informed choices and people are free to have information from different sources and take a decision to cast their vote.
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