The dates of the Karnataka elections were announced by the Election Commission on Tuesday, and have then become a source of a conspiracy theory which is being peddled by a section of the media.
Incidentally, at 11:08 AM, the BJP’s IT head Amit Malviya tweeted that the dates of the polls were 12th May (polling) and 18th May (counting) respectively:
This soon was called into question by journalists, who pointed out that the dates of the Karnataka polls had actually not been announced by the EC yet:
EC yet to announce….how come the scoop??? https://t.co/kYRRqeWly1
— Nistula Hebbar (@nistula) March 27, 2018
This was spun into a narrative which questioned as to how did the BJP know the Karnataka election dates before it was announced by the EC:
How does BJPs IT cell chief knows the poll dates in advance? He tweets the poll dates atleast 15-16 minutes before ECI announcement! pic.twitter.com/NUjikgvU55
— arunoday (@arunodayprakash) March 27, 2018
Opposition politicians too soon jumped on the bandwagon to attack the BJP, by insinuating some form of a malpractice committed by the BJP:
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? pic.twitter.com/i3vU2iJpjH
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) March 27, 2018
The credibility of the Election Commission of India as an institution and the sanctity of India’s democratic processes is at stake. Nothing less than exemplary punishment for the BJP would help restore public faith. pic.twitter.com/yrIvd7vmkY
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) March 27, 2018
CNN News-18 incidentally became so enthusiastic about the “conspiracy theories” that it reported Congress leader Milind Deora’s “questions” with unusual excitement:
Shocking that @BJP4India had prior knowledge of #KarnatakaElections2018. This is unprecedented & seriously undermines voters’ trust in the EC of India’s impartiality. It also begs the question: does BJP have prior knowledge of the result? @milinddeora tweets #BattleForKarnatakapic.twitter.com/rLiviylD3W
— News18 (@CNNnews18) March 27, 2018
So what is the truth of the matter? Did the BJP really manage to gain access to classified information, ahead of other so as to possibly aid its poll preparation? Unfortunately for the perpetrators of the said conspiracy, BJP seems to have had no such information.
Soon after the journalists started questioning Malviya, he clarified that his tweet was based on a claim by Times Now:
Times Now is showing. https://t.co/ksuRepzGiX
— Amit Malviya (@malviyamit) March 27, 2018
So did Times Now indeed report the Karnataka election dates, before the tweet by Malyiya? The answer is yes, as seen by the screenshots of its live news coverage attached below:
As clearly seen above, Times Now broke the Karnataka election dates at 11:06 AM, before Malviya put out his tweet. This gives credence to the theory that Malviya was watching the channel and after seeing the dates promptly tweeted them after two minutes.
Another aspect of the “flawed conspiracy theory peddling” is that both BJP and Congress’s IT department, put out similar tweets around the same time, but the journalists only chose to target the BJP:
Besides the evidence put forth, the narrative that the BJP somehow had access to inside information was anyway a fallacy considering the actual counting date was 15th May and not 18th as claimed by Times Now, Amit Malviya and Srivatsa. The only question which might be raised would be how did Times Now manage to get the partially wrong information which it chose to break.