Three NE states to vote next month

New Delhi: Assembly elections in Tripura will be held on February 18 while Meghalaya and Nagaland will vote on February 27, the Election Commission announced on Thursday.

Chief Election Commissioner A.K. Joti said counting in the three states will be held on March 3. The terms of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura assemblies are ending on March 6, 13 and 14 respectively. The three assemblies have 60 members each.

The BJP is trying to make inroads in these three states while the Congress and the Left are seeking to retain their foothold.

The notification for Tripura will be issued on January 24, beginning the process of filing of nominations. January 31 will be the last date for filing papers. Scrutiny will take place on February 1 and February 3 will be the last date for withdrawal from the electoral battle. For Meghalaya and Nagaland, the poll notification will be out on January 31, while the last date for filing nominations will be February 7. The last date for withdrawal of candidature is February 12, Joti said at a news conference.

Tripura has 25,69,216 voters, Nagaland 11,89,264 and Meghalaya 18,30,104.

In Tripura, the Left has been in power for five terms with chief minister Manik Sarkar in the driver's seat for four consecutive terms. Besides Kerala, it is the only state where the CPM-led Left Front is in power. Sarkar will have to overcome anti-incumbency as the BJP and the Trinamul Congress are eyeing power in the state. The state's present Assembly strength is largely tilted in favour of the Left with the CPM having 50 members and the CPI one. The BJP has six MLAs and the Congress two. One seat is vacant following disqualification of an MLA under anti-defection law.

In Meghalaya, the Congress, which is battling internal rebellion by MLAs, is in power with Mukul Sangma as the chief minister. After losing Assam to the BJP, retaining Meghalaya is crucial for the party. At present, the state Assembly has 24 Congress MLAs, seven UDP, four HSPDP, two NPP, one NCP and eight Independent MLAs. So far 14 MLAs have resigned, including seven from the Congress, five Independents, one NCP and one United Democratic Party, reducing the strength of the House to 46.

In Nagaland, the Naga People's Front (NPF)-BJP alliance rules under the chief ministership of T.R. Zeliang. At present, the Assembly has 46 NPF legislators, four BJP legislators and eight Independents. Two seats are vacant, following the death of one MLA and resignation of another. PTI

Like Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, paper trail machines will be used along with EVMs in all the polling stations of each Assembly constituency of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura to enhance transparency and credibility of the elections.

Paper trail machines from one polling station in each Assembly constituency will be randomly selected to count paper slips for verification of the result obtained from the control unit.


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