The counting of votes for the Assembly elections in three states in the North East — Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura — will be held on Saturday amid tight security.
LIVE Counting updates: The BJP and its ally IPFT were set to end the Left Front's 25-year-rule in Tripura with a strong showing in the Assembly polls, while Meghalaya seemed to be headed for a hung House. In Nagaland, a close finish was on the cards, according to available trends.
The Manik Sarkar government seems to be on its way out in Tripura with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) taking a giant lead over the CPI (M). In Meghalaya, the Congress is leading, but the BJP is confident of forming the government along with UDP and NPP. Congress has already rushed senior leaders Kamal Nath and Ahmed Patel to Shillong to check horse-trading and hold alliance talks.
Himanta Biswa Sarma, the man behind the BJP’s performance in Tripura, said the alliance with IPFT (Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura) was the game changer. Mukul Sangma (INC) wins in Songsak, Cherak Momin (INC) wins Kharkutta.
In Nagaland, the NPF+ seems set to retain power, marching past the BJP-NDPP alliance, whose CM face Neiphiu Rio has already won unopposed from Northern Angami-II.
Securing the North East is more important for BJP than it would appear at present in light of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. If by-election results in various states are anything to go by, BJP's seats in the core Hindi heartland are set to take a downward revision. Gujarat is a battle, Rajasthan is looking precarious, Madhya Pradesh isn't too promising either. In most of these states where BJP was the dominant force in 2014 and swept everything that came its way, it appears to have saturated.
Counting of votes cast in the Assembly elections in three states in the North East — Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland — began. Heavy security was deployed in Tripura and Meghalaya.
The counting will begin at 8 am and results are expected by the afternoon. Tripura went to the polls on 18 February while elections in Meghalaya and Nagaland were held on 27 February.
In Tripura, two exit polls have suggested that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may dethrone the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM)-led government that has had an uninterrupted run since 1993.
Ahead of Saturday's counting, both the CPM and the BJP claimed that they will form the next government in the state.
CPM Tripura State Secretary Bijan Dhar said the Left parties were "more than confident" of forming the next government. BJP state President Biplab Kumar Deb said that people of Tripura wanted change and "strongly wished for a BJP government" in the state.
File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. PTI
The party had contested 50 seats in the last assembly polls in 2013 and its candidates forfeited their deposits on 49 seats. With 1.87 percent of votes, it failed to win any seat. The CPM had won 49 of the 55 seats it contested while the Congress managed to win 10 out of 48 seats it contested.
Despite large-scale snags in EVMs and VVPATs (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail), over 92 percent (excluding 50,770 postal ballots) of Tripura's 2,536,589 voters cast their votes in a peaceful election.
Balloting in Charilam has been deferred to 12 March after the death of a CPM candidate.
JanKiBaat-NewsX Exit poll had predicted that the BJP-IPFT alliance in Tripura would win 35-45 seats with a vote share of 51 percent while that by AxisMyIndia had predicted that the alliance will get 44 to 50 seats with a vote share of 49 percent.
A total of 292 candidates, including 23 women and many independents, are in the fray in the state.
The ruling CPM has fielded 56 candidates, leaving one seat each to its Left Front partners — the Communist Party of India, Forward Bloc and Revolutionary Socialist Party.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is contesting in 50 seats and left nine seats for its ally, the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT).
The Congress fielded candidates for all 59 constituencies but one of its candidates withdrew his nomination and joined the BJP. The Trinamool Congress has fielded 24 candidates.
In Meghalaya, which saw around 84 percent voting, the contest involves the ruling Congress, BJP, National People's Party (NPP) and the newly floated People's Democratic Front.
Polling in Williamnagar constituency of the state was countermanded following the death of Nationalist Congress Party candidate in an IED blast.
The CVoter exit poll has predicted the ruling Congress 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 2013, the BJP had badly lost all 13 seats it contested with a vote share of 6.2 percent. The NPP had won only two seats out of 32 it contested.
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 percent vote share.
It predicted that the ruling Naga People's Front (NPF) will bag 19-25 seats with a vote share of 27.1 percent. NPF had won 38 seats and 47.65 vote share in 2013 elections.
This time around, the Congress tally may come down to 0-4 seats, according to Cvoter survey.
The voting in the state was held in 59 of the total 60 constituencies as three-time Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDDP) has been declared elected unopposed from Northern Angami-II constituency.
Follow all the LIVE updates from Nagaland here
Follow all the LIVE updates from Tripura here
Follow all the LIVE updates from Meghalaya here
With inputs from IANS