The initial trends from the elections in the North Eastern states of Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya.
Counting began at 8 AM, and first results have started to come in (see table above).
Both Tripura and Meghalaya assemblies have 59 elected representatives, while the Nagaland assembly has 60 elected members.
The elections are held in 178 state assembly seats, spread over five Lok Sabha seats in three states.
Manik Sarkar, one of the cleanest politicians in India, faces an uphill battle to retain his Left Front government.
According to initial trends, the BJP+IPFT alliance has increased its vote share in the state to around 45%, while the Left Front is at around 47%. The BJP had only 1.5% vote share in the last elections.
Crucial to the results will be the success of BJP’s attempt to dent Left’s vote base in the 20 seats reserved for tribal candidates. It has allied with IPFT, a local party, with support among tribals.
The Congress, which used to be the main opposition in the state, runs the risk of being pushed to oblivion in this election as the fight becomes one of Left vs Right.
“If the Tiranga (of the Congress) is not there, they will go with the saffron flag,” it said. “Manik Sarkar’s development track-record is horrible,” he said, adding that the Chief Minister has a good personal image.
“But it counts for nothing… what matter is his performance. His performance in law and order has been excellent.”
Sarkar, he added, has been an unusually tough chief minister in terms of controlling the tribal insurgents from attacking settlers from outside, particularly Bengali speaking settlers.
The incumbent Congress government faces tough competition due to corruption allegations. Jai Kumar, spokesperson of the Congress Party from the North East, said he expects the Congress to form a government in Meghalaya.
He alleged that ‘money was flowing like water’ in the other states, and therefore, the Congress may not do well in those.
The fight is four-way, between Conrad Sanghma’s NPP, the BJP, the UDP alliance and the Congress.
The first result has come from Northern Angami II seat in Nagaland, where Neiphiu Rio of NDPP has won unopposed.
Rio used to be with the ruling front of Naga People’s Front, which also used to be an ally of the BJP. He eventually split with NPF and created a new party called NDPP, and is considered part of the NDA.
Rio is expected to be the most important politician after the elections.
However, the BJP has indicated that it is open to a post poll alliance with NPF too, depending on the results.
In Nagaland, the Congress fought only in 18 out of the 60 seats. State chief has criticized the national leadership for not fighting in more seats.