SHILLONG, March 2: The results of the high-stakes Assembly election for Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura will be out on Saturday. The counting will begin at 8 am in all three states amid tight security and results are expected by the afternoon.
The BJP has emerged as a strong contender in all the three states and two exit polls have predicted that the party would dethrone the 25-year-old Left Front government in Tripura and consolidate its position in the other two states.
Exit polls have predicted major gains for BJP in the key north-eastern states. The predictions have cast a gloom on the Congress, as the popularity of the grand old party among voters seem to be fast diminishing.
The BJP, which has emerged as a strong contender in the three states, is likely to overthrow the Left government in Tripura and will also make its presence felt in Meghalaya and Nagaland, predicts exit poll.
The Congress has been ruling Meghalaya for over a decade while the Naga People’s Front (NPF) has been in power in Nagaland since 2003. NPF was on the back foot briefly in 2008 after President’s rule was imposed in Nagaland.
With renewed enthusiasm from its victory in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, the BJP is leaving no stone unturned to make a strong presence in the three states.
While the Congress has been ruling Meghalaya for 10 years, the Naga People’s Front (NPF) has been in power in Nagaland since 2003, except for a three-month period of President’s rule in 2008.
Polling was held for 59 of 60 assembly seats in each of the three states for different reasons. Tripura went to the polls on February 18 while elections in Meghalya and Nagaland were held on February 27.
“Adequate security measures have been made for the counting centres. Counting halls were also ready. General observers and police observers were appointed for all the counting halls,” additional chief electoral officer of Tripura Tapas Ray said.
On the otherhand, Meghalaya chief electoral officer F R Kharkongor informed that a three-tier security arrangement has been made at all the 13 counting centres and 11 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have been deployed in Shillong for the counting process.
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.
The voting in Nagaland was held in 59 as three-time chief minister Neiphiu Rio of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) has been declared elected unopposed from Northern Angami-II constituency.
In Meghalaya, the Congress 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.
In Tripura, two exit polls have suggested the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dethroning the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led government that has had an uninterrupted run since 1993.
Ahead of Saturday’s counting, both the CPI-M and the BJP claimed that they will form the next government in the state.
The CVoter exit poll has predicted the ruling Congress of Meghalaya suffering some setback with its tally coming down to 13-19 from 29 while the BJP is set to win 4-8 seats and around 16.5 per cent of vote share. It said the local National People’s Party (NPP) may get 17-23 seats.
In Nagaland, the BJP is contesting the polls in alliance with the newly-floated Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and the two are contesting 20 and 40 seats respectively.
The CVoter survey has predicted a victory for the BJP-NDPP with the combine likely to get 25-31 seats with 38.4 per cent vote share. (With inputs from agencies)