Union Minister Prakash Javadekar demanded a full enquiry after electronic voting machines (EVM) and voter-verifiable paper audit trails (VVPAT) were recovered from a TMC leader's residence in West Bengal's Howrah on Tuesday ahead of the third phase of state Assembly polls.
Briefing the mediapersons, Javadekar said, "Today is the third phase of polling in West Bengal. And yet, another TMC attempt has been exposed. Last night in Uluberia, from the residence of TMC leader Gautam Ghosh, four VVPATs and EVMs were found and confiscated. Machines were brought by car, which was on election duty."
"It is more serious because today is voting. EC has taken action not to use those machines and suspend the officer. But 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 in his house," added the union minister.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has suspended the sector officer on Tuesday.
According to the EC, Tapan Sarkar, sector officer of Sector 17 in AC 177 Uluberia Uttar at Howrah district, went with reserved EVM and slept at a relative's house. It was a reserved EVM that has been removed from the election process.
"This is a gross violation of EC's instructions for which he has been suspended and charges will be framed for major punishment. The said EVM and VVPAT have been taken out of the stock and shall not be used in the polls. Severe action will be taken against all involved," read an EC statement.
A total of 31 Assembly constituencies in districts including eight in Hooghly, seven in Howrah and 16 in South 24 Parganas are going to polls in phase-III. There are 205 candidates in the fray in this round of polling. However, when it comes to women representation, there are only 13 women candidates contesting in this phase, merely six per cent.
Polling for the first two phases of the West Bengal elections were held on March 27 and April 1 respectively. The fourth phase of polling will take place on April 10. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.
( With inputs from ANI )
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