Congress leader Rahul Gandhi slammed the Election Commission on Saturday with a two-word takedown of the poll body on Twitter amid a huge controversy over officials transporting an electronic voting machine (EVM) in a BJP candidate's car in Assam and a reduction of campaign ban duration on a senior BJP leader.
"Election 'Commission'," Mr Gandhi tweeted in a direct attack on the poll body that has since suspended four officials and ordered repolling in one station in Assam's Ratabari after the purported video of the EVM being carried in a BJP leader's vehicle was circulated widely on social media.
Election "Commission".— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 3, 2021
The tweet also comes on a day when the poll body halved Assam minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma's 48-hour campaign ban for threatening to send Bodoland People's Front chief Hagrama Mohilary to jail. The BPF was an ally of the BJP, but is now fighting the Assam election with Congress.
Mr Sarma will be able to campaign on Sunday, the final day before the third and last phase of the assembly election in Assam.
The video that showed an EVM being transported in a car that belonged to the wife of Krishnendu Paul, a BJP candidate in Patharkandi, sparked violence in Karimganj district where the seat is located.
This is the only way the BJP can win Assam: by looting EVMs. EVM capturing, like there used to be booth capturing. All under the nose of the Election Commission. Sad day for democracy. #EVM_theft_Assam#AssamAssemblyElection2021https://t.co/5dmlu67Uui— Gaurav Gogoi (@GauravGogoiAsm) April 1, 2021
The tweet by Mr Gandhi, who is also Congress MP from Kerala's Wayanad, is suggestive of the Election Commission's alleged inaction that the Congress has claimed regarding this incident and also the leniency showed to Mr Sarma by reducing his campaign ban.
In another tweet in Hindi, the 50-year-old former Congress chief had hit out at the Election Commission, saying: "The EC's car has broken down, the BJP's intentions are bad and the condition of democracy has worsened".
In a conversation with Harvard University professor and former US Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, Mr Gandhi also alleged that a "wholesale capture" of India's institutional framework by the ruling party has changed the paradigm in which opposition parties operate post-2014 as the institutions that are supposed to support a fair political fight do not do so anymore.
He also claimed that there is absolute financial and media dominance by the BJP.
Various Congress leaders, including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, have hit out against the EVM video.
The party has also slammed the poll body in the Himanta Biswa Sarma incident saying: "History will not pardon the Election Commission or BJP for this sin."