All arrangements are in place for today's counting of votes in 3 Northeastern states -- Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland where Assembly elections were held recently.
While Tripura went to polls on Feb 18, voting in Meghalaya and Nagaland was held on Tuesday (Feb 27). 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.
Counting will begin from 8 am in all the states amid tight security, Election Commission officials said.
Votes would be counted in presence of the candidates and agents under the supervision of the respective district returning officers and assistant returning officers, state Additional CEO N Moa Aier said.
In Tripura, Over 92 per cent of state’s 2,536,589 voters had exercised their franchise in peaceful elections, setting a new record in the electoral history of India. In the 2013 and 2008 assembly polls, Tripura had registered 92 per cent and 91 per cent voting, respectively.
In Nagaland, over 75 per cent voting was recorded where as in Meghalaya, 67 per cent of the 18.9 lakh voters exercised their franchise.
While the tenure of Left-ruled Tripura Assembly ends on March 14, the tenure of Nagaland and Meghalaya Assemblies will end on March 13 and 6, respectively.
Meanwhile, security has been tightened across Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland, particularly in-and-around the counting centres.
In Meghalaya, the election was countermanded in Williamnagar in the wake of the killing of a candidate. Chief Electoral Officer FR Kharkonger said, 13 counting centres will be set up in the state.
He said, elaborate security arrangements have also been made for the counting, for which 37 Returning Officers and 60 Assistant Returning Officers will be deployed.
Nagaland Chief Electoral Abhijit Sinha said, counting will be done in 12 district headquarters. He said, a three-tier security arrangement has been put in place for the process.
Besides the District Executive Force, Nagaland Armed Police, Indian Reserve Battalion, a Company of Central Armed Police Force have been deployed at each counting centre.
Exit poll predicts major gain for BJP
The BJP has emerged as a strong contender in all the three states.
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. The CPI(M) led Left Front has ruled the northeastern state since 1993 under Chief Ministers Dasaratha Deb (1993-1998) and Manik Sarkar (1998-2018).
The Congress, which fought Assembly elections in alliance with the tribal party Tripura Upajati Juba Samity since 1983, entered the poll battle alone this time. The ruling CPI(M) 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 BJP is contesting in 50 seats and left nine seats for its ally, the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT).
While the Congress has been ruling Meghalaya for 10 years, the Naga People's Front (NFP) has been in power in Nagaland since 2003, except for a three-month period of President's rule in 2008.
Buoyed by the formation of governments in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, the BJP is making a bid to expand its footprints in the region.
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 CM 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.