Casting doubts over exit and opinion polls, a private news channel Tuesday claimed many such polls were manipulated, and alleged that 11 polling companies had agreed to tamper with the findings for a price.
Purported recorded conversations aired by the channel also claimed that agencies conducting surveys were even ready to manipulate the margin of error from 3 per cent to 5 per cent.
“Public opinion gathered by leading opinion poll agencies is often tweaked to give misleading results. Well-known faces from leading opinion poll agencies have been caught on hidden camera agreeing to such malpractices,” News Express channel said in a statement, referring to its purported expose named ‘Operation Prime Minister’.
“Operation Prime Minister shows how opinion polls are conducted and manipulated at the instance of political parties, their results traded to show a particular party in a favourable position, for a price,” it said.
News Express was launched in July 2011, and is owned by the Saiprasad Group, a real estate developer based in Pune.
Reacting to the purported expose, the India Today Group said it was suspending all opinion polls being carried out by C-Voter for the group.
“We are examining the allegations levelled in the sting operation very seriously. In the interim we are suspending all opinion polls being carried out by C-Voter for the India Today Group. A show-cause notice is also being sent to C-Voter seeking a response on the charges levelled by the news channel,” the statement said.
Detailing the conversation with C-Voter News Service GM Sharmishtha Loiwal, the channel claimed the agency agreed to manipulate the result by fixing a price per constituency.
However, Yashwant Deshmukh, managing director of C-Voter, later tweeted: “I would rather focus on my own work and my results speak rather than reacting to such accusations. I am proud of my entire team. Cheers.”
“As far as NewsExpress is concerned; we have done many polls for them; bang on target. Just that I refused to appear with them this time..”, he claimed in another tweet.
The other polling agencies named by News Express in its purported sting operation include Quality Research and Services, Mild Stream Marketing and Research Pvt Ltd and Newzstreet Digital Media Pvt Ltd.
Former Apple executive and Dwarka MLA Adarsh Shastri has also been included in the spokespersons’ list.