The counting of votes for the legislative assembly elections in Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya will begin from 8 am on Saturday, Election Commission officials informed. There has been considerable voter turnout in the tri-states with Tripura recording a turnout close to 89 per cent whereas Nagaland and Meghalaya recording a nearly 75 per cent voter participation. Elections in Tripura took place on February 18 whereas Nagaland and Meghalaya went to polls 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 told news agency PTI.
The campaigns for the elections in the three states witnessed robust participation from top-notch leaders from the two biggest political parties – BJP and Congress. 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. 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. Tripura has earned the epithet of ‘Red bastion’ owing to the 25-year-old rule of the CPI(M) in the state.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been leading his party’s charge in this election camapign, with focus on curbing the anti-incumbency sentiments and retaining power in Meghalaya.
BJP will aim to expand its footprint in the region, especially after it formed governments in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
In Nagaland, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) chief Neiphiu Rio was declared elected unopposed. 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. The election process in Nagaland had started on a difficult note.
Following a no-poll diktat from the Core Committee of Nagaland Tribal Hohos and Civil Organisations that advocated “solution (to the Naga political issue) before elections”, political parties initially kept away from the poll process.
Meanwhile, Additional Chief Electoral Officer of Tripura Tapas Ray told PTI: “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.”
In Nagaland, 349 tables in 17 centres across the state would be set up for counting, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Abhijit Sinha, 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 told PTI.
Meghalaya Chief Electoral Officer F R Kharkongor said 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 here for the counting process.
(With PTI inputs)