EC to probe how Karnataka polling date was leaked

New Delhi: A tweet by BJP’s IT cell chief Amit Malviya that declared Karnataka assembly poll dates even before the Election Commission could do so, has created a controversy, with CEC O P Rawat saying the ‘leak’ would be probed and responsibility fixed.
Ultimately, however, it turned out that while Malviya, who later deleted the tweet, had got the poll date right, he was wrong on the counting date. Malviya had, in a tweet at 11.08 am just after the EC press conference to announce the poll dates started, said: “Karnataka will vote on 12 May 2018, counting on 18 May 2018”. CEC Rawat at the time was yet to declare the poll schedule. In fact, some reporters interrupted the press conference to question Rawat on the poll dates already put out by Malviya. A clueless Rawat turned to deputy EC Umesh Mehta, asking him to check the same. He later said: “Certain things may have leaked for which the Election Commission will take strictest possible action, both administratively and legally”.
The EC is known to maintain a thick veil of secrecy on the poll schedule prior to its declaration in order to rule out any last-minute advantage to the party in power through announcement of pre-poll sops.
While Malviya did clarify that his controversial tweet was based on information being put out by electronic media, he deleted the tweet in an apparent bid to avoid further embarrassment to himself as well as his party.
Of course, by then, a furore had already been created. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala took to Twitter to allege that the credibility of EC was on test. “Will EC now issue notice to BJP president Amit Shah and register an FIR against the BJP IT head for leaking EC’s confidential information?” he asked.
However, when TOI did check with EC sources, they conceded that no action can be initiated against Malviya or any intermediary to whom the poll date may have been leaked. “Any probe would have essentially fix responsibility on the EC official or staffer who may have leaked the poll dates, followed by action against him for dereliction of duty or under Conduct of Election Rules,” said an EC official. There is no specific provision in the election laws under which punitive action can be taken for violation of confidentiality of poll schedule by an outsider.