The exit poll published by Dainik Jagran showing a majority for BJP right after the first phase of Uttar Pradesh elections, in contravention of election commission regulation, was supplied by a senior business executive at the mass circulation Hindi daily who is also an active worker of the RSS, an investigation by The Wire has revealed.
The poll, which was taken down later showed the BJP surging ahead of other parties. After the Dainik Jagran published the “news”, it was widely shared and by BJP and RSS activists across UP via WhatsApp and used as a campaign tool.
After the Uttar Pradesh police arrested the online editor of Dainik Jagran, Shekhar Tripathi for violating poll codes, the newspaper’s CEO Sanjay Gupta had admitted the exit poll was “carried by our advertising department.”
However, the investigation has established that the controversial exit poll was sent to the newspaper by Tanmay Shankar, then the business and marketing head at Jagran Prakashan and MMI Online Ltd – the holding company for the Jagran group’s digital products – and published with the clearance of MMI head Sukriti Gupta.
In an email to Jagran’s various editorial departments on 10 February, Shankar instructed that “a pre_poll analysis from http://rdiindia.com” run “on our P1 Slot.”
The URL belongs to Resource Development International, a human resources management firm in Gurgaon that has nothing to do with election surveys, the initials RDI are common to another company, Research and Development Initiative, with the URL http://rdiindia.org, which not only has conducted election surveys in the past but whose promoter, Devendra Kumar, has worked with BJP leaders like Arun Jaitley and Vasundhara Raje in the past, The Wire reported.
The said email shows that the email was received by Shankar from one ‘Sunil R.’ However, Shankar told the news portal that he did not know. Nor could he explain why he had mentioned http://rdiindia.com as the polling agency in his email.
After the exit polls raised questions, Shankar appears to have edited his Facebook page to delete all traces of his association with the RSS. However, screenshots and photos downloaded before he could do so paint a picture of a man committed to the RSS, attending its ‘shakhas’ and paying obeisance to its revered leader, ‘Guru’ Golwalkar.