Amid the ongoing Phase 3 polls of the West Bengal Assembly Election 2021 on 6 April, units of the electronic voting machine (EVM) and VVPAT were found at the house of a Trinamool Congress (AITC) leader in Uluberia.
The Election Commission of India has said that the EVM and VVPAT machines were taken to the AITC leader’s residence by Tapan Sarkar, a sector officer in charge of elections. The EC has suspended the sector officer and removed the reserved EVM machine from the election process.
Sarkar, the sector officer of Sector 17 in Howrah’s Uluberia Uttar assembly constituency, took reserved EVM machines to a relative’s house and slept at the house. Noting that the incident is a “gross violation” of EC’s instructions, the Election Commission has suspended the sector officer and subsequent charges will be framed for a ‘major punishment’, news agency ANI said.
Sarkar, the accused sector officer, said that he had brought the four reserved EVM machines to AITC leader Goutam Ghosh’s residence at Uluberia’s Tulsiberia area on 5 April night, since the BDO office was “occupied” by central police personnel. Sarkar said that he intended to keep the EVM and VVPAT machines with him while he caught a few moments of rest since keeping the machines in the car would’ve proved riskier.
Chiran Bera, the BJP candidate in Uluberia Uttar, has dismissed Sarkar’s reasoning and alleged that getting hold of the EVM and VVPAT machines was an attempt planned by the AITC to “loot votes”.
Phase 3 of the West Bengal assembly elections are being held in 31 seats across three districts ― South 24 Parganas, Howrah, and Hooghly. The first two phases of the state assembly elections were held on 27 March and 1 April, respectively. In 2016, AITC had won 6 out of the 7 seats in Howrah, including Uluberia Uttar, which go for polls on 6 April.
West Bengal will see five more phases of polling in the ongoing elections, and the last one will be conducted on 29 April. Votes will be counted on 2 May.