Agartala/Shillong/Kohima: Counting of votes cast in the assembly elections in three northeastern states of Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland will be taken up on Saturday.
Polling was held for 59 of 60 assembly seats in each of the three states for different reasons. The counting will begin at 8 a.m. and results are expected by the afternoon. Tripura went to the polls on February 18 while elections in Meghalya and Nagaland were held on February 27.
In Tripura, two exit polls have suggested the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dethroning the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led government that has had an uninterrupted run since 1993.
Ahead of Saturday's counting, both the CPI-M and the BJP claimed that they will form the next government in the state.
CPI-M Tripura State Secretary Bijan Dhar said the Left parties were "more than confident" of forming the next government. BJP state President Biplab Kumar Deb said that people of Tripura wanted change and "strongly wished for a BJP government" in the state.
The party had contested 50 seats in the last assembly polls in 2013 and its candidates forfeited their deposits on 49 seats. With 1.87 per cent of votes, it failed to win any seat. The CPI-M had won 49 of the 55 seats it contested while the Congress managed to win 10 out of 48 seats it contested.
Despite large-scale snags in EVMs and VVPATs (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) over 92 per cent (excluding 50,770 postal ballots) of Tripura's 2,536,589 voters cast their votes in peaceful election.
Balloting in the Charilam (reserved for the tribals) has been deferred to March 12 after the death of a CPI-M candidate.
JanKiBaat-NewsX Exit poll had predicted that the BJP-IPFT alliance in Tripura would win 35-45 seats with a vote share of 51 per cent while that by AxisMyIndia had predicted that the alliance will get 44 to 50 seats with a vote share of 49 per cent.
A total of 292 candidates, including 23 women and many independents, are in the fray in the state.
The ruling CPI-M has fielded 56 candidates, leaving one seat each to its Left Front partners -- the Communist Party of India, Forward Bloc and Revolutionary Socialist Party.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is contesting in 50 seats and left nine seats for its ally, the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT).
The Congress fielded candidates for all 59 constituencies but one of its candidates withdrew his nomination and joined the BJP. The Trinamool Congress has fielded 24 candidates.
In Meghalaya, which saw around 84 per cent voting, the contest involves the ruling Congress, BJP, National People's Party (NPP) and the newly floated People's Democratic Front.
Polling in Williamnagar constituency of the state was countermanded following the death of Nationalist Congress Party candidate in an IED blast.
The CVoter exit poll has predicted the ruling Congress suffering some setback with its tally coming down to 13-19 from 29 while the BJP is set to win 4-8 seats and around 16.5 per cent of vote share. It said the local National People's Party (NPP) may get 17-23 seats.
In 2013, the BJP had badly lost all 13 seats it contested with a vote share of 6.2 per cent. The NPP had won only two seats out of 32 it contested.
In Nagaland, the BJP is contesting the polls in alliance with the newly-floated Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and the two are contesting 20 and 40 seats respectively.
The CVoter survey has predicted a victory for the BJP-NDPP with the combine likely to get 25-31 seats with 38.4 per cent vote share.
It predicted that the ruling Naga People's Front (NPF) will bag 19-25 seats with a vote share of 27.1 per cent. NPF had won 38 seats and 47.65 vote share in 2013 elections.
This time around, the Congress tally may come down to 0-4 seats, according to Cvoter survey.
The voting in the state was held in 59 of the total 60 constituencies as three-time Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDDP) has been declared elected unopposed from Northern Angami-II constituency.