The Opposition on Tuesday questioned the Election Commission for the delay in releasing the final voter turnout data for the first two phases of the Lok Sabha polls and the alleged discrepancy in the figures as compared to what was reported on the voting days.

While the first phase of the parliamentary election recorded a turnout of 66.14%, the second phase recorded a figure of 66.71%, the poll panel said on Tuesday. However, the panel did not release the total number of voters in each constituency.

The final figures are substantially higher than the provisional polling estimates for the two phases released by the Election Commission earlier.

The data was released after more than 10 days of the first phase and four days after the second phase of polling.

Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien on Tuesday questioned the increase of 5.75% in the final voter turnout figures for the second phase, as compared to the real time figures released by the poll body four days ago.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury observed that the figures released for this year’s elections are “substantially, not marginally as is normal, higher than the initial figures”.

“But why are the absolute numbers of voters in each parliamentary constituency not put out? Percentages are meaningless unless this figure is known,” he asked. “Apprehensions of manipulation of results continue as total voter numbers can be altered at the time of counting.”

Yechury said that till 2014, the Election Commission had shared the total number of voters in each constituency on its website. “ECI must be transparent and put out this data,” he added.

Political activist Yogendra Yadav said that it is “unusual and worrying” that there was a delay of 11 days in releasing the voter turnout data and not sharing the actual number of electorate and votes polled in each constituency and its Assembly segments.

“I have watched and studied Indian elections for 35 years now,” Yadav said in a social media post. “While a difference of 3% to 5% points between initial [evening on polling days] and final turnout figures was not abnormal, we used to get the final data within 24 hours.”

Yadav pointed out that this information is recorded by the poll panel in Form 17 for each polling booth and is available with the candidates’ agents. However, he said that only the Election Commission can and “must give the aggregate data to eliminate any possibility of fudging or discrepancy between votes polled and votes counted”.

Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) also raised similar concerns. “At a time when we are living in such modern times, where we have digital resources, the Election Commission is taking 10 eleven days to just tell us the voter turnout,” party leader Anand Dubey said.

He also said that at the time of conclusion of phase one and two, it had been reported in the media that the voter turnout was around 60%. But the Election Commission is now saying that the voter turnout is 66%, a jump of 6%, he said. “What is happening?” Dubey questioned.

According to data released by the poll panel on Tuesday, the voter turnout in the first phase of polling, which took place on April 19, was 66.22% among male voters and 66.07% among female electors. The figures for the second phase of polling, which took place on April 26, were 66.99% among male voters and 66.42% of female voters.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the final turnout of the first phase was shared two days after the voting. The voter turnout for the first phase in 2019 was 69.43% and for the second phase was 69.44%.

Just before the data was released on Tuesday, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had said that the Election Commission’s delay in releasing the data was unprecedented.

“In the past, ECI used to publish the final voter turnout immediately after voting or within 24 hours,” he had said in a social media post. “Only approximate polling figures are available on ECI’s website. What accounts for this delay?”

He had also pointed out that the number of registered voters in each Lok Sabha constituency and the Assembly segments included in the parliamentary constituency is not available on the poll panel’s website.

“It only shows the total number of voters in a state and the number of voters in each booth,” he had said. “It is essential for the Election Commission of India to be as timely and transparent about all election-related data.”

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