Highlights: Tripura Votes On Sunday; Meghalaya, Nagaland Also Ready For Elections

Security forces patrol a street at a village ahead of assembly elections in Nagaland.

Assembly elections in Left Front-ruled Tripura will be held on February 18, while people in Meghalaya and Nagaland will vote on February 27. Counting of votes in all the three states in the north-east is on March 3. The model code of conduct is in force in the three states since January 19. All the three states have 60 seats each in their assembly. The Congress is in power in Meghalaya, the Left Front is running Tripura and the Naga People’s Front in alliance with the BJP is in charge in Nagaland. BJP leaders have been the north-east in recent times to firm up election plans. The Congress is also looking to strengthen its presence in the region, which the BJP has been taking inch by inch with the victories in Assam and Manipur in the last two years.

Here are the updates of the assembly elections in Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland:

Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang exuded confidence that the NPF will return to power and said the party has not shut doors to the BJP to return into the partnership after February 27 elections. He, however, ruled out any possibility of alliance with the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) even in the case of a hung Assembly.

A total of 372 candidates are in the fray for the February 27 Meghalaya assembly elections after three of them withdrew their documents on the last date of withdrawal of nomination, Chief Electoral Officer Frederick R Kharkongor said. He said the total number of candidates in the Meghalaya assemble elections is now 372 out of the 375 whose nominations were cleared during scrutiny.

In Nagaland, where nine out of 10 people are Christian, political parties are racing to offer the devout a sop they can’t refuse. The Congress has already gone and done it in its manifesto on Monday. The BJP suggested the idea in a recent vision document and is likely to make a better offer tomorrow when it is set for release. The offer – a visit to the holiest of holy lands for the faithful, Jerusalem.

The Left Front led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M) has been in power in Tripura since 1993. It is seen as the strongest bastion of the Left in the country with Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, 68, completing his fourth term. This time, the BJP is eyeing the state and has got a boost after six Trinamool Congress and one Congress legislator joined the party. The BJP is also trying to form an alliance with regional parties to consolidate anti-Left votes.

In Nagaland’s 60-member assembly, the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland is in power led by the Naga People’s Front and supported by the BJP. The BJP is trying to make inroads into the state with Congress losing ground as the main opposition party. Internal troubles in the Naga People’s Front might end up helping the BJP though. Former Nagaland Chief Minister and Lok Sabha parliamentarian Neiphiu Rio has formed a new political party, breaking ties with the NPF, and may even join hands with BJP.

Electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter-verifiable paper trail (VVPAT) will be used in the assembly elections in Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland, Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti had said. He said election officials have made good efforts to assure basic facilities and arrangements for people with special needs to help them vote. Voter assistance desk will be set up at every polling station, Mr Joti said.

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