India Today accidentally leaking its exit poll data for 2019 Lok Sabha polls dominated the social media conversation on Thursday as many felt that this was a violation of the Model Code of Conduct. While some tagged the Election Commission on Twitter asking it to take stringent action against the channel, rival Times Now and Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV were seemingly angry because the exit poll results were catastrophic for the BJP.
In the viral video, Rahul Kanwal of India Today group was seen plugging the big exit poll prediction, scheduled to be broadcast on the evening of 19 May. As his camera turned towards a computer screen behind him, it appeared to show the data to be broadcast on 19 May. According to the India Today data, the BJP-led NDA was likely to lose 177 seats compared to its 2014 performance. The UPA, on the other hand, was likely to gain 76 seats, while the regional parties were expected to win 224 seats among themselves.
The ‘leak’ evoked angry reactions from social media users including those from India Today’s rival channels. The channel’s editor-in-chief, Rahul Shivshankar asked, “Is this true?” His colleague Madhavdas G tagged the Election Commission and one of the Election Commissioners, Ashok Lavasa, when he wrote, “Did @rahulkanwal just give us a sneak peek into their #exitpoll projection? NDA getting 177?”
Arnab Goswami launched a tirade against India Today without naming the channel and devoted one hour to discuss his rival channel’s disastrous predictions for the BJP. Calling it a ‘Lutyens’ Exit Poll,’ Goswami said, “Well before the exit poll and even as 59 Lok Sabha constituencies are still to vote, Lutyens have declared the result. In two fake exit polls originating from Lutyens, one totally contraband and illegal and other the network itself now trying to dissociate from. Lutyens have declared that India will have a hung house. Are these fake polls, fake news on fake channels planted?”
— Republic (@republic) May 16, 2019
Reacting to widespread criticism, the India Today Group released a clarification stating that the Exit Poll data flashed in the video was ‘dummy data.’ it said, “We understand your excitement about this clip! Sorry to disappoint you. 🙃 We too are waiting anxiously for the data.This is visibly a promo with dummy data, played on #ElectionNewstrack For the REAL thing,tune in to India Today & AajTak on May 19, 4pm.”
We understand your excitement about this clip! Sorry to disappoint you. 🙃 We too are waiting anxiously for the data.This is visibly a promo with dummy data, played on #ElectionNewstrack
For the REAL thing,tune in to India Today & AajTak on May 19, 4pm onwards #AajTakAxisExitPoll pic.twitter.com/cTC1lGmRvE
— आज तक (@aajtak) May 16, 2019
The campaigning for the last phase of elections will end tonight with counting expected to be held on 23 May.