Jagran Group CEO and editor of the Hindi daily, Sanjay Gupta, has reportedly claimed that the exit poll, published in favour of the BJP soon after the first phase of Uttar Pradesh elections, was carried by the paper’s advertising department.
“The exit poll didn’t appear in the newspaper. It was carried by the advertising department on our website. We have removed it now,” Gupta was quoted by Indian Express.
Many would find Gupta’s claims an acknowledgement of having received money for an editorial that was carried as an exit poll.
In its report, now deleted, Jagran had written, “The BJP will become the numero uno party in the first phase. The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will be at second position while the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance is not likely to get a positive response from the voters. The findings were first published by Dainik Jagran website.”
Curiously, the media group had nowhere termed its ‘findings’ as paid advertisement before being criticised for the violation of poll guidelines. However, Gupta’s defence implying that the group had effectively received money to run what explicitly came across as an exit poll will be deemed as another serious breach of the poll guidelines.
The Election Commission on Monday had ordered filing of an FIR against the paper. Later, the police had arrested the publication’s online editor.
Jagran has often been accused of biases in favour of the BJP. It was among the first media groups that Prime Minister had chosen to speak to after becoming the prime minister.