The BJP's push in the Nagaland, Tripura and Meghalaya has meant that these assembly elections in the three North-eastern states have seen an unprecedented interest across India. In polls that seem to be going down the wire, the BJP seems set to establish itself was a force to be contended with in these states. Counting began at 8 AM today.
Here is your 10-point cheatsheet on North-East India's 'Super Saturday' poll so far:
1. In Tripura, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar seems to be struggling to see off the challenge mounted by the BJP. The CPI (M) led in 28 seats and the BJP on 31 at 10:30 AM.
2. If the ‘poorest chief minister in the country’ can pull the proverbial rabbit out of a hat, it will see him in office for an unprecedented fifth-term. In filing his nominations this year, the 69-year-old Sarkar has declared a bank balance INR 2410 and INR 1520 as cash in hand. Sarkar, like many Left leaders, donates his chief minister's salary to the party fund, and the CPI(M) pays his a wage of INR 5000 each month. Even if he wins Tripura for the CPM, the Left will still have suffered major losses down to slender majority from the 50 seats it has in the outgoing assembly.
3. Speaking to news agency ANI, Brinda Karat said, “We are very confident. Let more rounds of counting complete, our leads are going to get much bigger.”
4. In Meghalaya, the actual number will count and the big question is whether the Congress will reach the majority mark of 31. With leads available at 10:30 AM, the Congress-led in 23 seats, while BJP’s ally at the centre NPP, founded by former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma, was ahead in 12 and the BJP in 5. Interestingly, another NDA partner, UDP, which contested the state polls separately, is leading in 8 seats.
5. Pollsters believe that if these trends hold the NDA partners, who decided to go it alone in the state, may come together in a post-poll alliance to keep the Congress out.
6. Most exit polls had predicted the Congress led by Chief Minister Mukul Sangma will win between 13 and 20 seats. The chief minister, who is contesting from two seats, Songsak and Ampati, is currently leading in both.
7. Nagaland is proving to be another closely contested state where the contest is between Chief Minister TR Zeliang of the NPF and the newly-formed NDPP of Zeliang’s colleague turned adversary Neiphui Rio. The BJP, which was in alliance with the NPF, broke away before the elections to partner with the NDPP. The NPF is ahead on 31 seats and the NDPP-BJP alliance in 25.
8. All the three states have 60 assembly seats and any party or alliance needs 31 to form a government.
9. Polling was held for 59 seats in Tripura and Meghalaya after the death of candidates forced elections to be postponed on a seat each.
10. In Nagaland, former Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has been elected unopposed from his constituency Northern Angami II.