The Election commission on Saturday rejected the Congress allegation that it had rescheduled the press conference to declare the poll schedule in five states under “pressure” from the Prime Minister to accommodate his election rally in Ajmer in Rajasthan.
As the Commission came under attack, Chief Election Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat suo motu, in his press conference, referred to the delay in the media interaction and said technical experts of the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) informed the Commission in the morning that there were some technical problems relating to electoral roll of one state and they needed more time to solve it.
He also mentioned the pending plea in the Hyderabad High Court and the Friday order of the court directing the Commission to show the final electoral rolls of Telangana to the bench on October 8, the next date fixed for hearing, before releasing it.
The CEC also said that Chief secretary of Tamil Nadu requested the Commission not to announce the schedule for by elections to two Assembly seats in the state as there is forecast of cyclone and rain. “All this things made us to change everything,” he said.
Later during the question-answer session, Rawat was sked about the criticism over rescheduling the time of the press conference from 12.30 p.m. to 3 p.m. and that it was done under pressure from Prime Minister to accommodate his election rally in Ajmer in Rajasthan.
He replied said there was no pressure from anywhere. “There would not have been a delay of two-three hours but for the problem relating to electoral rolls in Telangana,” he said and added parties were free to complain to the Commission if somebody got a concession.
“It is the duty of the Commission to satisfy all the stakeholders. We will hold free, fair and credible elections which is our commitment and compulsion,” he said.
Earlier, he had said politicians and political parties make criticism and the Commission has no comments to make on that.
In the morning, Congress questioned the independence of the Commission in the wake of the change of timing of the press conference.
“Three facts- Draw your own conclusions. ECI announces a PC at 12.30 today (Saturday) to announce election dates to the 5 states. PM Modi is addressing a rally in Ajmer, Rajasthan at 1 p.m. today. ECI suddenly changes the time of announcement and PC to 3 p.m. Independence of ECI?,” Congress chief Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted.
Speaking in Kolkata, he said “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is guilty of pressuring the EC to delay its press conference as he was scheduled to address a rally in Rajasthan’s Ajmer at 1 pm. The EC was made to wait for Modi’s rally.”
Former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha also joined issues by tweeting: “Unfortunate that Election Commission postponed announcement of election dates in five states only to enable Modi to address his public meeting in Ajmer, Rajasthan. Very sad.”
Reacting to it, the Commission had told journalists, “Prime concern was for convenience of all of you media persons to reach in time at short notice of morning message and arranging logistics here.”
Earlier in the day, the Commission sent a message to media persons at 9.50 a.m. regarding the press conference at 12.30 p.m.
Almost after an hour, the reporters received another message that the timing of the press conference had been changed to 3 p.m.