India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party today appeared on course to dethrone the 25-year-old rule of the Left parties in Tripura state and capture power in alliance with a regional party in Nagaland while Congress is poised to be the single largest party in Meghalaya as counting of votes in the elections to the three north-eastern states neared the end.
The legislative assemblies of all the three states, which went to poll on February 18 and February 27, has identical strength of 60 seats each. The voter turnout in all the three states was very high. Tripura recorded a turnout of about 89 percent, Nagaland and Meghalaya recorded nearly 75 percent.
According to latest trends, BJP is ahead in 43 of the total of 60 seats in Tripura while ruling CPI(M)-led Left Front in 19 seats. With the decline of Congress which had once ruled the state for long, over the years, Tripura for the first time witnessed a direct contest between BJP and the Left in the elections, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
In the last assembly polls in Tripura five years ago, BJP had failed to win a single seat and the Left got 33 seats. If the Left is defeated in Tripura, this will be the second state it will lose as its stronghold after losing power in West Bengal after 34 years of uninterrupted rule having been defeated by Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress in 2011.
Congress seems to be failing to win a single seat in Tripura which the party had ruled for long in the past.
Initial trends of vote-count had showed a neck-and-neck fight between the Left Front and BJP in Tripura but later the saffron party, whose spirited campaign in the state was spearheaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah, ran away clear winners, leaving the Left a distant second, in a vindication of BJP’s election slogan of “poribartan chai.”
CPI(M)-led Left Front has been in power in Tripura for quarter of a century since 1998. Out of which, two decades under the leadership of chief minister Manik Sarkar. Tripura is one of the two Indian states where the Left is in power, the other being Kerala in the south.
If BJP, which fought the Tripura in alliance with Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura, manages to win in Tripura, and also succeeds in coming to power in Meghalaya and Nagaland by striking the right alliances, there will be saffron presence in six of the total of seven north-eastern states, a remarkable achievement for a party which had hardly been a force in the region till a few years ago.
Mizoram is the only state in northeast where Congress is in power and fresh assembly polls in the state are due later this year.
In Meghalaya, ruling Congress, led by chief minister Mukul Sangma, is set to be the single largest party by leading in 28 seats followed by National People’s Party a distant second with 13 seats, BJP 8 and others with 10 seats. In Nagaland, NDPP-BJP alliance led in 31 seats while ruling National People’s Front in 24.
If Meghalaya produces a fractured electoral mandate, as it has for all but one state election, BJP and its regional partners in the Northeast Democratic Alliance may forge a post-poll alliance as was seen last year in Manipur elections. Although Congress had emerged as the single largest party in Manipur poll, BJP quickly struck an alliance to form government.
No wonder, BJP leader from Assam Himant Biswa Sarma, a key strategist of the party in the northeast, said that “if we win all the three states, our expansion in the northeast will be complete.”Sarma left Congress party in 2015 and joined BJP.