West Bengal: Poll officer takes EVMs to TMC leader's house
A polling officer in West Bengal was suspended after he took four Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and four Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) to the house of his relative, who is a Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader. The incident comes in the midst of an intense election, as the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hopes to unseat the ruling TMC. Here are more details.
EC official took EVMs to politician-relative's house; slept over
Tapan Sarkar, the deputed officer for Howrah's Sector 17 in AC 177 Uluberia Uttar, was found to have taken the EVMs and VVPATs to the home of his relative, TMC's Gautam Ghosh, and slept over. The Election Commission noted that this amounts to "gross violation" of its instructions. "The Sector Officer has been suspended and charges will be framed for major punishment," it said.
Villagers protested after spotting EC vehicle outside TMC leader's home
According to PTI, the incident came to light when villagers in Tulsiberia village spotted a vehicle with an EC sticker outside the house of the TMC leader in the early hours on Tuesday. The villagers then started protesting. Sarkar claimed he had reached the polling booth late and found it closed, and hence, decided to spend the night at his relative's home.
Police officials attached to Sarkar also suspended: EC
The EC has also suspended the police officials attached to Sarkar. The polling body said that one of the EVMs was a reserved EVM, which has been removed from the election process. All seals of the EVM were checked and it has been stored under General Observer Neeraj Pawan's custody. Severe action will be taken against all those who are involved, the EC said.
Prakash Javadekar demands full inquiry
Following this incident, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar demanded a full investigation into the matter. Javadekar was quoted as saying by ANI, "It is more serious because today is voting." "This may be a bigger thing than it seems. So we demand that there should be a full inquiry of these VVPATs and EVMs found at his house," he added.
Recently, EVM was found inside Assam BJP candidate's car
The incident comes mere days after an EVM was found inside the car of Assam BJP candidate Krishnendu Paul. The incident was reported shortly after the conclusion of the second phase of Assembly elections in the state. Four polling officers were suspended in connection with the incident. Further, repolling was ordered at the Ratabari polling booth in the Patharkandi Assembly constituency.
Polling for 31 Assembly constituencies underway today
West Bengal is currently undergoing its eight-phase Assembly elections. The third phase of the elections is underway on Tuesday. 31 Assembly seats are going to poll on the day. The last day of polling is April 29 and the votes will be counted on May 2. Notably, both the BJP and the TMC have accused each other of foul play in the election.