Results will be declared on Thursday for assembly polls in Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland with the keenly-fought battle in the three northeastern states marking the first round of polls in an electorally-crucial year.
Meghalaya and Nagaland went for the assembly polls on February 27 and voting was held in Tripura on February 16. The three states witnessed high voter turnout. The BJP, which has replaced Congress as the dominant party in the northeast, is optimistic of prospects in the three states. Apart from the three states, results will also be declared in the bypolls for Erode (East) seat in Tamil Nadu, Sagardighi in West Bengal Ramgarh in Jharkhand where polling was held on 27 February. Polling for Kasba Peth and Chinchwad in Maharashtra was held on 26 February. Apart from the assembly polls, the bypolls have also evoked wide interest due to battle for supremacy between two factions of Shiv Sena. Though the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction is not the contesting the bypolls, it has thrown its weight behind the Maha Vikas Agadhi candidates. The bypolls are the first since the Election Commission recognised the faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde as the real Shiv Sena and allotted it party name and symbol. The bypoll to the Erode East assembly seat in Tamil Nadu is also significant for both the ruling DMK and opposition AIADMK. The exit polls have predicted a clear victory of NDPP-BJP alliance in Nagaland, a clear edge to BJP in Tripura and a hung verdict in Meghalaya. While Tripura saw 87.76 per cent polling, it was 85.90 per cent in Nagaland and 85.27 per cent in Meghalaya.
Meghayala Chief Minister and National People’s Party leader Conrad Sangma met Assam Chief Minister Himanat Biswa Sarma on Tuesday night. The parties were partners in the ruling coalition but fought the assembly polls separately.
BJP leader Rituraj Sinha expressed confidence of party’s performance in the three northeastern states. “People in North-East saw good work done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Our government will be elected in these states. Our vote share will increase,” Sinha said on Tuesday.
The BJP had created a record in Tripura in 2018 election, ousting Left parties from their bastion and hopes to continue its winning run. Left parties and Congress joined hands in this election to give a tough fight to BJP. Tipra Motha, a regional party led by Pradyot Debbarma, a member of Tripura’s erstwhile royal family, is also expected to make its presence felt. The BJP has allied with IPFT (Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura), its partner in the previous assembly polls. The BJP contested 55 seats of 60-member assembly in Tripura in 27 February election. The Left Front fielded candidates in 47 seats and Congress on 13. Tipra Motha fought 42 seats and Trinamool Congress put up candidates on 28 seats. Chief Minister Manik Saha contested from Town Bardowali constituency and Union minister Pratima Bhowmik fought the polls as BJP candidate from Dhanpur. BJP leaders in their speeches talked about the development picking up pace in the border state and efforts of the “double-engine” government over the past five years. Tipra Motha has raised demand of Greater Tipraland. The counting of votes of 60 assembly constituencies in Tripura will be held in 21 counting locations across the state.
Meghalaya went to the polls for 59 of its 60 assembly seats. Polling for the Sohiong Assembly constituency was postponed following the demise of the state’s former Home minister and United Democratic Party (UDP) candidate from the seat, HDR Lyngdoh. The National People’s Party (NPP) is leading the ruling alliance which also included the BJP. But the two parties have contested the poll separately.
Trinamool Congress and regional parties such as the United Democratic Party and People’s Democratic Front have also sought to put up a strong fight and a split verdict could throw open various possibilities in the state. The BJP and Congress contested 59 seats while the NPP has put up nominees in 56 constituencies. Meghalaya holds significance for pan-India ambitions of Trinamool Congress and the party contested 57 seats. Conrad K Sangma contested from South Tura constituency while Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Sangma is in the fray from Songsak and Tikrikilla. In Nagaland, the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) contested 40 seats while its ally BJP put up candidates 20 seats in the on the 60-member House. Akuluto seat was won uncontested by BJP. Congress contested 23 seats in the state. The NDPP-BJP alliance in the state is led by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.
Naga People’s Front (NPF) leader Kuzholuzo Nienu has said that the party is open to post-poll arrangements. Interestingly, Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) has fielded 16 candidates.
The Election Commission has made adequate arrangements for counting of votes.