A Bengal election officer who claims he slept overnight with an electronic voting machine (EVM) at the home of his relative, a Trinamool Congress leader, has been suspended by the Election Commission. The EVM and VVPAT will not be used in the polls, the election body said this morning.
Tapan Sarkar, the deputed officer for Howrah's Sector 17 in AC 177 Uluberia Uttar, was found to have taken a reserve EVM to his politician-relative's home to sleep over. Charges for major punishment will now be framed against the official, authorities have said. Police officials attached to him will also face action, they said.
"This is a gross violation of Election Commission of India's instructions for which the Sector Officer has been suspended and charges will be framed for major punishment," the Commission said in a release. "The sector police attached to the officer have also been directed to be suspended."
General Observer Neeraj Pawan has checked all seals of the EVM, which has now been stored in a separate room under the observer's custody, the Commission has said.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar demanded a full enquiry into the matter, ANI reported. "It is more serious because today is voting...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," he said.
The incident comes amid a heated poll season in the state, with both the ruling Trinamool and the opposition BJP accusing each other of trying to manipulate the system to their own advantage.
It also comes within days of an EVM being found in a BJP leader's private vehicle in neighbouring Assam.
West Bengal votes today in the third of its eight-phased Assembly polls. Upto 31 Assembly constituencies are going to the polls to decide the fates of 205 candidates.