As polls predict Cong’s exit, party refuses debate

Amid predictions of a humiliating defeat, the Congress on Monday announced that it will not participate in debates on exit polls, which started airing on television channels around 6 pm, when voting in the world’s largest election ended. 

‘Keeping with its tradition, Congress will not participate in exit poll programmes,’ party general secretary Shakeel Ahmed told reporters here. 

The Congress campaign has led by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, 43, but the party on Monday appeared to suggest that the outcome will not be seen as a verdict on his abilities.

‘Rahul Gandhi is not in the government. All of us should be accountable,’ said the spokesperson. But he added, ‘We will have great results and all of you will be surprised.’

He said that in 2004 and 2009 general elections, the exit polls and opinion polls had been proved wrong. 

Polls in 2009 incorrectly forecast a victory for the BJP-led coalition.

He said that in one such exit poll last time, there was a gap of 68 seats between the predicted tally and the actual number of seats won by the party.

‘Congress has decided not to participate on any channels in such programmes,’ he said.

The BJP, led by its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, is expected to score the most number of seats, but it is not clear yet whether the party will land a clean majority, which would allow it to form the government without signing more than the 25 allies it fought the elections with.

Opinion polls indicate that voters will punish the Congress for massive corruption scandals, inflation and a sharp economic slowdown.

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