Rahul Gandhi terms exit polls ‘Modi’s fantasy’; ‘bogus, ‘deliberate attempt’ to justify rigging: Congress

Jairam Ramesh reiterated that the exit polls have been 'deliberately engineered by the man whose exit is inevitable on 4 June'.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jun 02, 2024 | 7:23 PM Updated Jun 02, 2024 | 7:23 PM

Rahul Gandhi in Kozhikode

Terming the exit polls “bogus”, the Congress on Sunday, 2 June, said they were a “deliberate attempt” to justify rigging of the elections and part of “psychological games” being played by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lower the morale of the INDIA bloc workers.

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said that those were not exit polls but “Modi media polls”.

“The name of those polls is not exit poll. It is Modi media polls. It’s his fantasy polls,” Gandhi told reporters.

He also exuded confidence that the INDIA bloc would win 295 seats in Lok Sabha.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and Gandhi held a meeting on Sunday with the party’s Lok Sabha candidates, legislative party leaders and state unit chiefs via video conferencing, and urged them to be alert and put in place measures to check any attempts of rigging on poll counting day, sources said.

Kharge, Gandhi, party general secretaries Jairam Ramesh and KC Venugopal, along with other senior leaders, interacted with the party’s Lok Sabha candidates and reviewed the preparations for the counting day on 4 June.

Also Read: LDF, Congress in Kerala reject exit poll predictions; term it baseless

To meet EC full bench

A delegation of Opposition INDIA bloc leaders will meet the full bench of the Election Commission (EC) later in the day.

Sources said the Opposition leaders will discuss counting norms with the EC, and also ask them to ensure that the laid down procedures are followed.

On Saturday, senior leaders of the INDIA bloc met in New Delhi to discuss their strategy for the counting day, even as the TMC and PDP skipped the meeting.

Kharge, who presided over the meeting, said they would meet the ECI on Sunday “to discuss certain issues”.

Opposition parties have asked their agents to monitor the process closely on the counting day on Tuesday and ensure that form 17C, which contains the number of votes recorded at each polling station, is shared with them.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh also hit out at Prime Minister Modi for holding several meetings, including a long brainstorming session to review the 100-day agenda of the “new government”, saying these were “pressure tactics” to send out a signal to the bureaucracy and the administrative structure that he is coming back.

“These are mind games — ‘I am coming back, I am going to be the prime minister again’. He is sending a signal to the bureaucracy, the administrative structure of the country and we hope that the civil servants who have been entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring a fair counting of votes will not be intimidated and not frightened by these pressure tactics,” Ramesh told PTI at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi.

‘Completely bogus’

He also said that the exit polls that came out Saturday evening are “completely bogus” and have been “orchestrated and masterminded by the man whose exit is inevitable and guaranteed on 4 June”.

“These are all part of the psychological games being played by the outgoing prime minister (Narendra Modi) and the outgoing home minister (Amit Shah). The outgoing home minister called up 150 District Magistrates and collectors yesterday (Saturday). The results that the exit polls have come up with bear no relation to reality,” the Congress leader said.

Exit polls on Saturday predicted that Prime Minister Modi will retain power for a third straight term, with the BJP-led NDA expected to win a big majority in the Lok Sabha polls.

While India Today-Axis My India has forecast 361-401 seats for the BJP-led alliance and 131-166 seats for the opposition INDIA bloc in the 543-member Lok Sabha, the ABP-C Voter predicted 353-383 seats for the ruling alliance and 152-182 seats for the INDIA bloc.

Slamming the exit polls, Ramesh said that in some states the NDA has been given more seats than the number of seats available in that state.

“It flies in the face of all political feedback. The INDIA ‘janbandhan’ parties met yesterday, we went through state-wise analysis and there is no way INDIA janbandhan is going to get less than 295 seats,” Ramesh said.

‘Attempt to justify rigging’

“This is a deliberate attempt to justify rigging, this is a deliberate attempt to justify manipulation of EVMs and this is also psychological ops to lower the morale of the Congress workers and the INDIA janbandhan workers. We are not going to be frightened, we are not going to be intimidated and you will see that the actual results on June 4 will be completely different from what these exit polls show,” the Congress general secretary said.

These are political exit polls and not professional exit polls, he added.

Ramesh pointed out that Congress treasurer and senior leader Ajay Maken has raised the issue of candidates’ counting agents at the Assistant Returning Officer (ARO) table not being allowed.

“He (Maken) has raised this issue, there has been some response from the CEO of Delhi but the fact of the matter is that he raised this issue based on legitimate fears that had been expressed by the candidates. We have raised the issue of the counting of postal ballots and the effort of the Election Commission to change the methodology that has been part of the law,” Ramesh said.

He said the Congress has raised all such issues before the poll watchdog and had filed 117 complaints to it over the lass 77 days, 14 of which are against the prime minister.

Also Read: Congress will win 10 seats in Telangana, says Revanth; ‘No faith in exit polls’, Shivakumar

‘No credible action by EC’

“There has been no credible action from the EC. It is a constitutional body and we expect it to function in an impartial, professional manner and must give us the confidence that it is on top of the job,” he said.

“We have sought time from the EC on the postal ballots issue. We are hopeful that we will get time from the EC which should be accessible to all political parties and should not function like an extended arm of the ruling party. So we are hopeful that we will get time from the EC,” the Congress general secretary said.

Ramesh reiterated that the exit polls have been “deliberately engineered by the man whose exit is inevitable on 4 June”.

On the slew of meetings being held by the prime minister on Sunday, Ramesh said, “All mind games being played, the fact that the outgoing home minister is talking to 150 DMs and collectors the fact that the outgoing PM is talking to secretaries on his so-called plan. He needs a 100-day plan of what he is going to do after 4 June.”

Leaders of several INDIA bloc parties had also met in New Delhi on Saturday and took stock of the Opposition’s preparations leading up to the 4 June counting of votes polled in the Lok Sabha elections, and asserted they will get more than 295 seats, enough for them to form the next government.

Addressing the media after two-and-a-half-hour confabulations at his residence, Kharge had said the leaders of the alliance dwelt on a host of issues, including the precautions to be taken on the counting day on Tuesday. He said they have instructed their party workers to not leave the counting halls till all formalities are completed.

(With PTI inputs)