Repoll in Assam booth after EVMs found in BJP candidate’s car

Video of the incident goes viral, drawing Priyanka Gandhi’s flak over EVMs’ ‘misuse’

Women voters
Around 77% voting took place in the second round of polling in Assam on April 1. Representative photo: PTI

A day after a video showing EVMs being transported in a car allegedly belonging to a BJP candidate in Assam went viral, the Election Commission on Friday (April 2) ordered re-polling at a polling station in the state’s Ratabari seat. Four officials involved in the incident have been suspended, the poll panel said.

The video was taken hours after the second phase of polling in the state on Thursday (April 1). The speaker’s voice in the video clip, purportedly shot at Patharkandi in Karimganj district in Barak valley, around 350 km from Assam capital Guwahati, described the situation in Patharkandi as “tense” following the incident involving BJP candidate Krishnendu Paul.

Also read: Phase 2: Violence mars Bengal polls, Assam remains peaceful

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Media reports said the police had to fire in the air to scare away a mob which surrounded the car. The EVM is safe and so are the election personnel, authorities said.

Assam recorded around 77 per cent voting in 39 assembly seats that went to the polls in the second phase of the election.

Media reports said the poll officials had to change the official vehicle following a break-down. However, it was unclear as to why they had to shift to a poll candidate’s vehicle.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi said the Election Commission should act on such complaints and that a serious re-evaluation of the use of EVMs needed to be carried out by all national parties. “Every time there is an election, video of private vehicles caught transporting EVMs show up. Unsurprisingly they have the following things in common: 1) the vehicles usually belong to BJP candidates or their associates; 2) the videos are taken as one off incidents and dismissed as aberrations; 3) The BJP uses its media machinery to accuse those who exposed the videos as sore losers,” she tweeted.

Media reports said the polling staff had taken a lift in a private vehicle, which allegedly belonged to the BJP candidate from Patharkandi constituency. As the car moved towards an area where the strong room is located, supporters of the opposition parties identified the vehicle and mobbed it, media reports said, adding the driver and the police staff ran away.

The opposition alleged “EVM capturing” by the ruling BJP. “This is the only way the BJP can win Assam,” said Gaurav Gogoi of Congress.

Also read: BJP promises ‘corrected NRC,’ quick delimitation process in Assam

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