A thoughtless and irresponsible action of some officials of the Election Commission in Assam last evening gave the Indian National Congress (INC) to renew their old allegation that the electronic voting machines (EVM) are hacked to influence poll results. A few hours after the second phase of polling ended in Assam on 1 April, a video purportedly showing EVMs being transported in the private vehicle of a sitting BJP MLA surfaced on social media.
A video posted on Twitter by Assam-based journalist Atanu Bhuyan showed EVMs placed inside a private vehicle. The video suggests that EVMs were being transported in the car. In his tweet, the journalist said the “situation is tense in Patharkandi” following the incident.
The vehicle, bearing registration number AS 10B 0022, belongs to sitting Assam MLA and BJP candidate from Patharkandi, Krishnendu Paul ― as per his affidavit of properties submitted to the Election Commission.
Sources in the Election Commission on Friday confirmed that the vehicle in the video belonged to Paul. In an affidavit to the Election Commission, Krishnendu Paul listed a Bolero car with registration number AS 10B 0022.
Soon after the video was uploaded on Twitter by an Assam-based journalist and was widely shared on social media, the opposition questioned the management of EVMs in poll-bound states. INC’s Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra shared the viral video within minutes of its surfacing and asked the Election Commission to act decisively. A serious re-evaluation of the use of EVMs needs to be carried out by all national parties, Gandhi-Vadra said.
The Election Commission has, meanwhile, suspended the four poll officials. It was found in the course of a preliminary inquiry that the commission’s official vehicle had broken down and, without sparing thoughts for the implications, the Election Commission’s workers took a lift in the BJP MLA’s car that was passing by.
The probe revealed further that the EVMs found in Paul’s car were intact ― that is, not tampered with.
[Go through the entire thread of tweets by the news agency, ANI]
But all hell had broken loose before that. After the conclusion of the second phase of the poll in Assam, some locals spotted a white Bolero car in Kanisail area of Karimganj in Assam at 10:30 PM on 1 April.
Initial reports suggested that when the locals went to question the car driver, he ran away. During the search, locals found EVMs inside the car according to the initial reports. However, this was unlikely if the suspended Election Commission officials’ submissions are to be believed. These officials were supposed to be inside the car in that case.
Then, apparently affiliated with the INC, the locals began sloganeering and vandalising properties in the area ― a situation that was promptly brought under control, police sources said.
People can be heard saying in the video that the vehicle belongs to BJP leader Krishnendu Paul. Sitting BJP MLA Krishnendu Paul is the party’s candidate from Patharkandi assembly constituency.
Following an uproar over the viral video, the Election Commission sought a detailed report on the incident from the district election officer of Karimganj through the chief electoral officer of Assam. The suspensions followed.
Election Commission sources told news agency ANI that a car of the poll body had broken down and officials took a lift in a passing car that was later identified as belonging to a BJP candidate.
“An FIR has been lodged against unknown persons who attacked the car carrying the polled EVM. Further investigations are on about the sequence of events. The EVM was not tampered with during the crowd attack and is in the custody of the administration,” the news agency quoted sources as saying.