12:02 GMT12 April 2021
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    West Bengal's state assembly elections are being held in eight phases this year; polls opened on 27 March. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is making efforts to replace the Mamata Banerjee -led Trinamool Congress government, which has been governing the state for the last 10 years.

    Amid the ongoing Phase 3 polls of the 2021 West Bengal Assembly Election on Tuesday, four electronic voting machines (EVMs) and a similar number of voter verifiable paper audit trails (VVPATs) were found at the residence of a Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader in West Bengal's Howrah district. 

    Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress is the ruling party in the state. 

    According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), the incident happened in Tulsiberia village, in the Uluberia Uttar assembly segment. 

    "Locals spotted a vehicle with an Election Commission sticker outside the house of the TMC leader in the early hours on Tuesday and started protesting. Later it was found that the officer of sector 17 Tapan Sarkar was visiting TMC leader Gautam Ghosh’s house with the voting machines," an official said. 

    ​The official further revealed that they have suspended the sector officer, while the EVMs and VVPAT machines, which were recovered, were kept as reserve. 

    "After the incident, the machines have been withdrawn from the poll process and replaced with new ones. All the political parties have been informed. Action is also likely to be taken against police personnel,” said a senior poll panel officer in a statement. 

    Meanwhile, the sector officer has claimed that he reached the area very late and found the polling booth closed, following which he spent the night at the TMC leader’s house, who was his relative, along with the machines.

    After the incident came to light, Bharatiya Janata Party state president Dilip Ghosh told state media "This is an old habit of the TMC. It takes time to get over the old habits. They have been caught red-handed and it shows what they are up to."

    Voting for the third phase of the West Bengal elections is underway in 31 constituencies. Polling began at 7 am (local time) amid tight security.

    However, several incidents of violence have already been reported. In Canning Purba Assembly segment, a person was injured after a makeshift bomb exploded outside a polling booth.  Saukat Mollah, the TMC candidate, blamed Indian Secular Front supporters for the violence.

    Meanwhile, the former governor of Tripura, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Tathagata Roy, claimed that a BJP worker's mother had been murdered, alleging that TMC 'goons' in the state's Hooghly district were the culprits.

    ​The ECI has already imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC (prohibit the assembly of four or more people in an area) in all the constituencies, declaring them as 'sensitive'.

    Related:

    Violence, Allegations, Face-Offs: Phase Two of West Bengal Elections Witnessed Complete Chaos
    Communal Harmony May Be Disrupted: West Bengal Lawmaker Urges Precautionary Steps Over Booth-Rigging
    41 Pipe Bombs Recovered from India's West Bengal Ahead of Third-Phase in State Polls
    Tags:
    polls, Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), Mamata Banerjee, Election, West Bengal, India
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