Speculation, not leak: Election Commission on Karnataka election date controversy

A committee set up by the Election Commission (EC) to probe alleged leak of poll dates in Karnataka, has concluded that the information pulled out by the tv channel was based on ‘mere speculation’ and did not amount a ‘leak’ considering that it was not entirely accurate. The panel submitted its report to the EC on Friday that also confirmed that the BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya and Karnataka Congress leader Srivatsa had tweeted poll dates after watching the news break on TV channels. The Chief Election Commissioner, O P Rawat, said that presentation of election dates by the news channel and tweets by the political party leaders was avoidable.

BJP social media head Amit Malviya and Karnataka Congress media incharge Srivatsa had both put out similar dates at same time, after probably watching on Times Now, but the media targeted only Malviya accusing the Election Commission of having been compromised.

Following that, the Election Commission has set up a committee [ pdf ] to probe in the leak of dates of Karnataka assembly elections prior to the CEC’s announcement.

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Times Now at about 11:06 AM on 27th March, dished out a breaking news claiming that the dates of the Karnataka elections were 12th May (for polling) and 18th May (for counting). This claim was made by Times Now before the Election Commission had officially announced the dates.

The information at Times Now was purportedly picked up by BJP’s IT head Amit Malviya who at about 11:08 AM tweeted the dates from his personal twitter account. This caused a media storm after journalists without much fact check questioned as to how did the BJP gain access to the dates before they were announced by the Election Commission.

The “Breaking News” was soon proven wrong by the Election Commission itself as the actual dates of the polls are 12th May (for polling) and 15th May (for counting). The inquiry, conducted by Karnataka police, found that most Kannada channels as well as Srivatsa tweets were based on a newsbreak by a national TV channel.

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