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A sector officer of the Uluberia Uttar constituency in Howrah district was suspended after EVMs and VVPATs were found at the residence of a TMC leader on Tuesday.

"Tapan Sarkar, sector officer of Sector 17 in AC 177 Uluberia Uttar at Howrah district, went with Reserve EVM and slept at a relative’s house. This is a gross violation of EC’s instructions for which he has been suspended and charges will be framed for major punishment," the Election Commission said in a statement.

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It added that a sector police official attached to the officer has also been directed to be suspended.

"The said EVM and VVPAT have been taken out of the stock and shall not be used in the polls," the EC stated.

"General Observer Neeraj Pawan has checked the intactness of all seals. These EVMs have now been stored in a separate room in Observer's custody," the authority added.

Polling begins

Polling for the third phase of the West Bengal assembly elections began at 7 am on Tuesday.

The electors are scheduled to vote in 31 assembly constituencies in three districts -- eight in Hooghly, seven in Howrah and 16 in South 24 Parganas.

There are 205 candidates in the fray in this round of polling, with Diamond Harbour having the maximum number of candidates at 11.

Among the most high-profile candidates is BJP's Swapan Dasgupta contesting from Tarakeswar constituency in Hooghly. Dasgupta, a noted journalist and a Padma Bhushan awardee has been a Rajya Sabha member who resigned recently to contest the Assembly polls.

In the Arambagh constituency, TMC has fielded Sujata Mondal Khan against CPI(M)'s Sakti Mohan Malik and BJP's Madhusudhan Bag. The interesting fact is Sujata Mondal Khan is the wife of BJP MP Saumitra Khan.

Of the three districts, South 24 Parganas has a significant importance for both the top parties in the fray - Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Diamond Harbour is the parliamentary constituency of TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee, the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

In the 2016 Assembly elections, TMC had bagged 29 seats and the Left Front won two seats out of these 31 seats in South Parganas. Talking about vote share in the last assembly election, TMC had secured 50%, the Left Front had 37% and the BJP got 7%.

In this phase out of the total number of electorates, 39,93,280 are men, 38,58,902 are women and 243 are of other genders. There are 8,840 polling stations and 2,391 auxiliary polling stations throughout the 31 constituencies. There are 10,871 Control Units, VVPATs and Ballot Units individually.

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