On April 5, while West Bengal was preparing to vote for 31 seats in the third phase of Assembly elections across districts – South 24 Parganas, Howrah, and Hooghly the next day, ruling party TMC faced criticism as EVMs were found in one of its leaders. Interestingly, India Today tried to pass it off just as an allegation by BJP.
In a video report, India Today said, “BJP alleges that EVMs were found at TMC Neta’s house in Howrah”. In a 2-minute report, the anchor and the reporter kept on repeating that BJP is alleging the EVMs were found in TMC’s leader’s house. The anchor repeated it four times while the reporter used different words as ‘alleged’ and ‘claimed’. Interestingly, the visuals of EVMs and VVPATs played in the background for one minute in the 2-minute report while the anchor kept on saying that BJP is alleging instead of confirming that the EVMs were indeed found in the TMC leader’s house.
EC suspended the presiding officer
As per reports, EVM and VVPAT machines were found at TMC leader Gautam Ghosh’s residence at Tulsiberia. The EVMs and VVPATs were brought to the residence of the TMC leader by Tapan Sarkar, a sector officer, in an election duty car. The sector officer who was caught red-handed by the villagers claimed that since it was very late in the night, the central forces had slept off and refused to open the booth, so they had to stay at a relative’s house to sleep who ‘happened to be a TMC leader’.
The Election Commission, in its report, said that the EVMs and VVPATs found at the TMC leader’s house were part of reserve stock, and they will not be used for the voting. The presiding officer was suspended. Reports suggest that when the villagers found out about the EVMs, the tension broke down in the area, and central forces were called to control the situation.
Netizens questioned India Today’s style of reporting
Several netizens raised eyebrows over the way India Today had reported.
India Today – When EVMs found inside BJP candidates car vs When EVM found at TMC Leader’s House .— Atul Ahuja (@atulahuja_) April 6, 2021
Dalali pro max! pic.twitter.com/mnf2A7ZkGw
Reports of violence in previous phases
The second phase of polling in West Bengal had witnessed several violence cases emerging from Nandigram, East Midnapore and Keshpur. BJP leader and Mamata Banerjee’s opponent, Suvendu Adhikari’s convoy was also attacked by alleged TMC goons in Nandigram.