Kapil Sibal takes on BJP, says it 'turned turtle' on the issue of banning opinion polls
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Amid a slugfest over the issue of opinion polls, Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal on Saturday hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying it has "turned turtle" after seeking a ban on such surveys earlier. He said the government has not taken any stand on the issue but mentioned that there is a " general impression" that opinion polls can be manipulated.
The advice of the Election Commission is awaited and if it recommends a ban and the government accepts it, an amendment will be required in the Representation of the People Act, Sibal said.
"There is a general impression that opinion polls can be manipulated. If political parties feel that there should be a level playing field without this kind of push, then it is their point of view and we should respect that," he said.
He was asked about the view of the Congress party that the opinion polls should be banned as they are "neither scientific nor is there any transparent process for such polls".
When referred to BJP's contention that the Congress was trying to kill the messenger by seeking a ban on opinion polls, the senior Congress leader shot back, "it was the BJP in 2004 which was killing the messenger" by demanding such a prohibition.
"On April 4, 2004, the then Law Minister (Arun Jaitley) and the then BJP gave the opinion that there should be a ban on opinion polls along with all political parties.
"In fact, the opposition party should explain why they have changed their position. Arun Jaitley must explain why, as Law Minister in 2004, he supported the ban and in 2013 he talks about freedom of expression. What happened to freedom of expression in 2004? BJP has turned turtle," Sibal said.