The Election Commission (EC) today set up a committee to probe the leak of Karnataka poll date. The committee will submit its report to the probe panel within 7 days.
Even before the Election Commission announced the poll dates for Karnataka Assembly elections, the controversy has overtaken the discourse. Moments before the poll body announced that elections will be held on May 12, BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya gave the information out on Twitter.
"Karnataka will vote on 12May2018, counting on 18May2018," Amit Malviya tweeted at 11:08 am. It soon emerged that a Congress worker also tweeted the same information at the same time. "Karnataka Elections on 12th May.Results on 18th May.," Srivatsa tweeted from an unverified account.
The profile Srivastsa says he is Congress Social Media Incharge, a claim the party has denied. The Election Commission had announced the information about polls dates around 11:23 am.
BJP becomes the ‘Super Election Commission’ as they announce poll dates for Karnataka even before the EC.— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) March 27, 2018
Credibility of EC is on test.
Will EC now issue notice to BJP President, Amit Shah & register an FIR against BJP IT Head for leaking EC’s confidential information? pic.twitter.com/i3vU2iJpjH
Karnataka Congress social media in-charge also announced poll dates much before EC did. Incidentally, both BJP’s Amit Malviya & he tweeted at the same time, got polling date right but results date wrong. pic.twitter.com/vV8C6jZhW6— Ruhi Tewari (@RuhiTewari) March 27, 2018
Not only the two 'social media heads' tweeted at the same time, but they also had same misinformation about the counting date, which is on May 15 and not May 18.
EC promises strict action
When informed about the report of dates by Amit Malviya before his announcement, the Chief Election Commission OP Rawat said that the matter will be investigated.
"Strict legal and administrative action will be taken on the leak of information," Rawat said. He had earlier seemed to imply to reporters that since the date of the results was wrong, it didn't count as a leak. "We won't comment on changing date because of a leak. The decision was just taken. They were wrong about counting date so it's wrong to say they were prepared beforehand," said the top election officer.
War of words
Congress seized Amit Malviya's tweet to reinforce its allegation that the Election Commission is "biased".
"BJP becomes the ‘Super Election Commission’ as they announce poll dates for Karnataka even before the EC. Credibility of EC is on test. Will EC now issue notice to BJP President, Amit Shah & register an FIR against BJP IT Head for leaking EC’s confidential information?," Congress spokesperson Randeep Sujewala tweeted.
Speaking media outside the Parliament, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge alleged that BJP was dictating polling dates to Election Commission.
"Amit Malviya tweeted Karnataka elections dates at 11 am. It means BJP is dictating polling dates to Election Commission. I expect EC to work according to the Constitution and law, and not let information leak. Such a thing has never happened before," Kharge said.
Suspended BJP lawmaker and former cricketer Kirti Azad called Malviya the "Steve Smith" of BJP, referring to the disgraced Australian cricketer caught in a ball-tampering scandal.
The source of Amit Malviya's tweet was questioned by Twiterrati as soon as he posted it, to which he replied that he got it from a news channel.
Similarly, Congress worker, who also tweeted dates, once again took to social media to clarify that he got the information from the news media flashes.
"For those asking me about my tweet on the poll dates, wasn't listening to the EC presser, saw local and national media flashing the dates and thought that it has been announced. Simple as that.," Srivatsa tweeted.
For those asking me about my tweet on the poll dates, wasn't listening to the EC presser, saw local and national media flashing the dates and thought that it has been announced. Simple as that. https://t.co/6MSaseH65U— Srivatsa (@srivatsayb) March 27, 2018
Meanwhile, BJP has sent a delegation led by senior lead Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi to meet Election Commission to discuss the matter. Congress, on the other hand, has denied having a position such as Karnataka social media incharge, effectively washing its hands off of Srivatsa.