New Delhi: Terming opinion polls as a "racket", "farce" and "manipulated" exercise, Congress on Monday made a strong pitch for banning them.
The party also rejected BJP`s criticism that Congress was opposing opinion polls as it was "scared" of Narendra Modi since these surveys are now predicting an edge to the opposition party.
The public responses of Congress leaders advocating a ban on such polls have come days after AICC wrote to the Election Commission for restriction on their publication and dissemination during elections while noting that the random surveys were "erroneous", "lack credibility" and could be "manipulated" by vested interests.
"...These have become a farce. They should be banned altogether. The kind of complaints, information that I have got show that anybody can pay and get a survey as desired...In a country of 1.2 billion people, how can a few thousand people predict the trend. It has become a racket. So many groups have sprung up," party general secretary Digvijay Singh said.
Union Minister Rajiv Shukla, speaking separately, said that opinion polls are also at times "manipulated" and, hence, the party has done the right thing opposing it.
"If there are genuine opinion polls, nobody minds but now the kind of reports that we are getting is that there are also manipulated opinion polls. Everybody is coming out with an opinion poll. Every Tom, Dick and Harry is coming out with an opinion poll.
"Obviously, when the media gives publicity, people definitely get carried away. So, it has been the right demand of the party. There has to be a neutral mind before polls," Shukla said.
Singh rejected contentions that Congress changed its mind on the issue, saying he has been maintaining this about opinion polls from day one. "Not from today. We have always been against them from day one," he said.