Government moves to ban exit polls (Lead)

October 8th, 2008 - 9:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Oct 8 (IANS) With general elections just months away, the government Wednesday moved to ban exit polls following widespread criticism that they tend to unduly sway voters.The cabinet, at a meeting here presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, approved a proposal to restrict publication of exit polls till the last phase of balloting ends, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said.

“Restriction on telecasting of exit polls would enable voters to exercise their right to vote without being influenced by the projection of (exit polls) after one phase of voting is over and other phases of voting are yet to be completed,” he told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

A bill to be introduced in the month-long session of parliament from Oct 17 would amend the Representation of the People Act to give effect to the proposed ban, he added.

Crucial assembly elections are due in Delhi, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh later this year followed by the Lok Sabha polls early next year.

Exit polls, which have been conducted in India for over a decade now, have mostly proved to be off the mark in predicting an election’s eventual outcome but have nevertheless caused considerable confusion.

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