Counting of votes in Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland

The stage is set for counting of votes on Saturday for the Assembly elections in northeastern states of Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland.  Counting of votes will begin at 8 am. Although all these states have sixty-member Assembly each, counting of votes will take place for 59 seats each in all three states.

The elections were countermanded in Charilam constituency in Tripura and Williamnagar of Meghalaya following death of candidates. In Nagaland, former Chief Minister and NDPP candidate is already declared elected unopposed from Northern Angami-2 constituency.

The Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements for counting of votes in all the three states in coordination with the respective chief electoral officers and law enforcing agencies.
Multi-tier security arrangement has been made at all the counting centers and adequate companies of Central Armed Police Forces and state police have been deployed for the counting process.

Tripura went to polls on the February 18, while voting in Meghalaya and Nagaland was held on February 27. The BJP, which was considered a weak force in northeast, has sought to turn the table this time and has shown hunger for victory in CPI-M citadel and Congress-ruled Meghalaya.

In Nagaland, the BJP already shared power with a regional party NPF but in the run up to the polls this time parted ways and instead allied with a newly floated NDPP.

The huge penetration in tribal support base who are also Christian voters in all the three states is being taken as an indication that the saffron party could surprise many. The Congress is putting up a brave battle to retain power in Meghalaya but it lost ground in two other states – Tripura and Nagaland. The grand old party could field only 19 candidates in Nagaland – where it has been in power in most of these years since the statehood in 1963.

BJP leaders claim that there has been a visible nervousness in the CPI-M camp on erosion of tribal support base  and therefore the Marxists’ party tried woo the Bengali voters by telling them repeatedly that the BJP has tied up with a tribal group Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) and may ‘divide’ the state once they come to power.

In the northeast, the BJP is already in power in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. The CPI-M,however, has exuded confidence and claimed that the Modi blitzkrieg will fail in Tripura. “The countdown for 2019 will begin,” remarked CPI-M leader Bijan Dhar.

Fearing ‘head counting’ exercise if the polls throw up a hung assembly, the NPF has informed Nagaland Governor P B Acharya about the pre-poll agreements it had entered with the JD (U) party and NPP.

The personal magnetism of incumbent Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma came in focus in this year’s elections. The Congress, which has been losing ground in every election since last three years, is hoping that Mr Sangma would play a ‘savior’ and help the grand party retain its hold.

Even as many tribal Christian leaders suspect some voters have “turned towards” the pro-Hindu BJP in the Christian-majority state, political observers and the exit polls generally suggested that Conrad Sangma-led NPP could emerge a key player in the corridors of power in Shillong.


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