Counting of votes for Assembly elections in three northeastern states – Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya – is set to begin at 8 am on Saturday amid high security. Apart from regional players like Naga People’s Front and National People’s Party, both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) left no stone unturned during the campaign to ensure good performance in all three states. In the run up to the elections, the BJP has emerged strong with at least two exit polls predicting that it would snatch power from Manik Sarkar-led Left Front government in Tripura and consolidate its position in Meghalaya and Nagaland.
The Congress, which has been ruling Meghalaya for the past 10 years, is likely to lose power in the state according to exit polls. And no clear winner is likely to emerge in the state. The National People’s Party is expected to perform well.
Though the strength of each of the Assemblies in the three states is 60 members, voting was held for 59 constituencies in all of them, for different reasons. While a CPI(M) candidate died in Tripura, a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate was killed in Meghalaya, which resulted in countermanding of the polls in one seat each in the two states.
In Nagaland, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) chief Neiphiu Rio was declared elected unopposed.
The Congress in Meghalaya fielded 59 candidates, while the BJP put up nominees in 47 constituencies. For the first time, Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma is contesting from two seats.
In Nagaland, the BJP has joined hands with the NDPP that was floated by former chief minister Neiphiu Rio. The NDPP is contesting on 40 seats and the saffron party on 20. The Congress, which has given three chief ministers to Nagaland since the state's inception in 1963, is contesting only in 18 seats, two less than the BJP.
Nagaland also witnessed some trouble before the polling with major political parties deciding to boycott the elections, demanding solution to the Naga crisis before. Though the filing of nominations started on January 31, the first batch of 22 contestants filed their papers only on February 5, the penultimate day for filing of nominations.
While Tripura went to the polls on February 18, elections were held in Nagaland and Meghalaya on February 27.
(With PTI Inputs)