Days after images of election officials transporting an EVM (electronic voting machine) in a BJP candidate’s car triggered controversy, yet another controversy has hit the election process in Assam. The election commission found on Monday that 181 votes had been cast at a booth in Dima Hasao district that had only 90 registered voters.

The booth is in the Haflong constituency that voted in the second phase on 1 April. Officially the constituency – won by the BJP’s Bir Bhadra Hagjer in 2016 – recorded only 74 percent polling.

A re-poll has been ordered and officials involved in the controversy have been suspended.

It is shocking how such a grave mistake took place in such an important election. There is a possibility that many such incidents have taken place but never came to the forefront.

A controversy like this hurts the image of the election commission. Unfortunately, in recent years, including in the ongoing assembly election process, the election commission has often been alleged of being soft towards the ruling BJP.

The BJP leaders have been found guilty of giving a highly communal speech but no strong action has been initiated. In Assam, it reduced the election campaign ban on Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma from 48 hours to 24 hours. This, despite the fact that he was alleged of openly threatening opposition leader Hagrama Mohillary.

The election commission is losing the trust of the people. This is very unfortunate for the Indian democracy. The commission will have to re-earn the trust of the people, or the outcome of every election will be viewed with suspicion, which is not good news for democracy.