Friday, December 1, 2023

Votes set to be counted in Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland; BJP confident about prospects

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Votes are set to be counted and results will be released on Thursday for Assembly elections in Tripura, Meghalaya, and Nagaland, with the three northeastern states marking the first round of polls in an election year. Meghalaya and Nagaland held assembly elections on February 27, while Tripura voted on February 16. Voter turnout was high in all three states.

The BJP, which has supplanted the Congress as the dominant party in the northeast, is upbeat about its prospects in the three states. In addition to the three states, results from byelections held on February 27 in Erode (East) in Tamil Nadu, Sagardighi in West Bengal, and Ramgarh in Jharkhand will be announced.

On February 26, Maharashtra voters went to the polls in Kasba Peth and Chinchwad. Apart from the assembly elections, the bypolls have sparked widespread interest due to the battle for supremacy between two Shiv Sena factions. Though the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction is not the contesting the bypolls, it has thrown its weight behind the Maha Vikas Agadhi candidates.

The byelections are the first held since the Election Commission recognised the faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde as the true Shiv Sena and gave it the party name and symbol. The byelection for the Erode East assembly seat in Tamil Nadu is important for both the ruling DMK and the opposition AIADMK.

Exit polls predict a clear victory for the NDPP-BJP alliance in Nagaland, a clear victory for the BJP in Tripura, and a hung verdict in Meghalaya. While Tripura had 87.76% of the vote, Nagaland had 85.90% and Meghalaya had 85.27 percent.

Conrad Sangma, Chief Minister of Meghayala and National People’s Party leader, met Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday night. The parties were partners in the ruling coalition but fought the assembly polls separately. Rituraj Sinha, the leader of the BJP, expressed confidence in the 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 set a record in Tripura in 2018, ousting the Left parties from their stronghold, and hopes to continue its winning streak. In this election, the Left parties and the Congress joined forces to give the BJP a tough fight.

Tipra Motha, a regional party led by Pradyot Debbarma, a former member of Tripura’s royal family, is also expected to make an appearance.

The BJP has formed an alliance with the IPFT (Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura), its coalition partner in the previous assembly elections.

The BJP ran for 55 seats in Tripura’s 60-member assembly in the February 27 election. The Left Front ran candidates for 47 seats, while Congress ran for 13. Tipra Motha ran for 42 seats, while Trinamool Congress ran for 28.

Chief Minister Manik Saha ran in the Town Bardowali constituency, while Union Minister Pratima Bhowmik ran as the BJP’s candidate in Dhanpur. In their speeches, BJP leaders emphasised the border state’s rapid development and the efforts of the “double-engine” government over the last five years. Tipra Motha has increased Greater Tipraland demand. Tripura’s 60 assembly constituencies will have their votes counted at 21 different locations across the state.

Meghalaya held elections for 59 of its 60 assembly seats. The election for the Sohiong Assembly constituency has been postponed due to the death of the state’s former Home Minister and UDP candidate for the seat, HDR Lyngdoh.

The National People’s Party (NPP) leads the ruling coalition, which includes the BJP. However, the two parties ran in separate elections. Trinamool Congress and regional parties such as the United Democratic Party and People’s Democratic Front have also fought hard, and a split verdict could open up new possibilities in the state. The BJP and Congress ran for 59 seats, while the NPP fielded candidates in 56. Meghalaya is significant for the Trinamool Congress’s pan-India ambitions, and the party ran for 57 seats.

Conrad K Sangma is running from South Tura, while Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Sangma is running from Songsak and Tikrikilla. In Nagaland, the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) ran for 40 seats in the 60-member House, while its ally, the BJP, ran for 20.

The BJP easily won the Akuluto seat. In the state, Congress contested 23 seats. Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio leads the NDPP-BJP coalition in the state. Kuzholuzo Nienu, leader of the Naga People’s Front (NPF), has stated that the party is open to post-election arrangements.

Surprisingly, the Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) has nominated 16 candidates. The Election Commission has made adequate provisions for vote counting. While elections have already taken place in Nagaland, Tripura, and Meghalaya, six more states will hold assembly elections later this year before the Lok Sabha elections in 2024.

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