Performing a somersault of sorts, the Election Commission first said on Friday that exit polls are banned until May 16, the day of counting, but when the news went viral, it clarified within an hour that exit polls are prohibited till half an hour after closing of polls on May 12, the ninth and final phase of polling for the 2014 general election.
Election commissioner HS Brahma categorically said that exit polls are banned till May 16 as they can affect and impact polling during possible re-polls after the last phase on May 12. On being asked again and again, Brahma remained steadfast on the date and even said that if need be, the Election Commission will issue a fresh notification on Saturday.
The news, aired immediately by television channels, caught everyone by surprise as most television news channels and newspapers have been preparing extensively for May 12 to use the next four days to publish exit polls. Besides a lot of interest among viewers and a lot more advertisement revenue depends on exit polls.
Within an hour though, the Election Commission issued a clarification stating that there is no such ban and that exit polls can be shown as scheduled, i.e. 30 minutes after the completion of polls on May 12.