Cong urges EC to take strict action against BJP after polled EVM is found in candidate's car

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Guwahati, Apr 2 (PTI) The Congress on Friday urged the EC to take strict action against BJP after a polled EVM was found in the car of the saffron party's Patharkandi candidate in Assam and demanded that security be increased for the final phase of assembly election in the state on April 6.

Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala also sought the lodging of an FIR against the BJP candidate and his immediate interrogation to uncover the truth behind the incident.

The Election Commission had said that the BJP candidate's vehicle was used as the one being used by the poll body had broken down.

A video on the incident showing an EVM being transported in the vehicle, which is registered in the name of the wife of the Patharkandi BJP candidate and its sitting MLA Krishnendu Paul on Thursday after the second phase of polling went viral on the social media on Thursday.

Violence broke out in Karimganj district of Assam on Thursday night after people spotted Paul's vehicle being used to transport the polled EVM forcing the police to fire in the air to bring the situation under control.

The incident snowballed into a huge controversy on Friday morning with the opposition Congress and AIUDF alleging that the EVM was being 'stolen'.

The Election Commission suspended four poll officials and ordered a repoll at the booth.

'We request the Election Commission to take strict action on the latest misadventure by BJP - an investigation be launched immediately to identify the EVM in question and tell the people of Assam how the BJP MLA get hold of the machine in the first place.

We also demand that an FIR be lodged against the BJP MLA from Patharkandi and he be immediately questioned to uncover the truth', he said.

Surjewala also demanded that security be increased for the third and final phase of polling in Assam on April six 'so that EVMs cannot be stolen or played around with.

Hitting out at the saffron party, the Congress leader said 'BJP means blackmailing of opponents, jeopardizing democracy and plundering. The people of Assam now understand the dirty tricks being employed by it - how they are breaching peoples trust and demeaning their mandate.

He challenged BJPs claim that it will win the ongoing assembly election in Assam saying 'The truth is the complete opposite. After the 2014 elections the BJP has not won a big majority in any of the big state elections apart from Uttar Pradesh. It is facing a series of losses in Vidhan Sabha Assembly elections. Whether it is Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra or Karnataka.

'From Manipur to Goa despite not garnering the majority in some states, the BJP has managed to muscle its way to power. They were on the verge of defeat in Gujarat, formed the government on crutches in Bihar and resorted to buying of MLAs in Madhya Pradesh', he said.

Keeping up his attack against the BJP, Surjewala said 'The Narendra Modi government has been exposed, while Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal continues with his array of lies and betrays the trust of the people. This is why the people here do not want to give BJP another chance in the ongoing Assembly elections.

He said the people of Assam have tested the so-called double-engine BJP government for five years and have found that its regime in Assam has not only deprived the state of any tangible development, but has also destroyed its socio- cultural fabric.

Referring to the Niti Aayog report which said that Sarbananda Sonowal government has made Assams economy, culture, health, education sector and infrastructural development reach new heights, he said 'Out of all the underdeveloped states the situation of Assam is probably the worst'.

After Bihar, Assam has registered the least output in these sectors as per the report based on the parameters of poverty, hunger, education, gender inequality, access to clean water and sanitation, clean energy, economic growth, climate action, peace and justice, he said.

Claiming that the Five Guarantees promised by the Congress in its manifesto will prove to be a milestone for the State, Surjewala said the government formed by the party will initiate the process of implementing it in the first session of the assembly itself.

He asserted that the party will win 101 out of the total 126 seats in Assam and form the government.

The Congress in its Five Guarantees has promised the nullification of Citizenship Amendment Act, hike in the daily wages of tea workers to Rs 365, assured generation of five lakh government jobs for the unemployed youth, 200 units of free electricity to every household in the state, Rs 2000 every month as relief to housewives. PTI ESB KK KK KK