EC declares poll dates, Tripura to vote on Feb 18; Nagaland, Meghalaya on Feb 27
Chief election commissioner AK Joti said counting in all three states will be held on March 3.india Updated: Jan 18, 2018 18:59 IST
Assembly election in Tripura will be held on February 18 while Meghalaya and Nagaland will go to polls on February 27, the election commission of India announced on Thursday. Results will be announced on March 3.
These three north eastern states may not be geographically bigwith 60-member Assembly each but the elections hold a lot of significance for the national parties in terms of symbolism. First, the BJP is the ruling party in 19 states and is looking to add more states to its kitty, especially in the north-east where the saffron party has already made deep forays dislodging the Congress from its dominant position in the region.
Of the three poll-bound states, Meghalaya is ruled by the Congress. The BJP has launched an aggressive campaign strategy in the state even though the main challenge to the ruling party is expected to come from the Nationalist People’s Party (NPP) of Conrad Sangma. Although the NPP is a constituent of the NDA, the BJP is likely to contest alone.
In Tripura, ruled by the Left since 1993, the BJP has put up a spirited fight and has emerged as the main opposition party, replacing the Congress. The grand old party might be the main political adversary of the BJP but it’s the Left that the BJP treats as its main ideological opponent. Although the BJP does not have a local face to match the popularity of four-term chief minister Manik Sarkar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal in this Left bastion is unmistakable. The saffron hopes to ride on Modi’s popularity to unseat the Left government.
In Nagaland, the ruling National People’s Front (NPF) is a divided house, with party chief S Liezietsu ranged against chief minister TR Zeliang. Lok Sabha MP Neiphiu Rio quit the NPF on Wednesday to join the National Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP). The BJP is likely to ally with the NDPP and also with one of the NPF factions.
Addressing a press conference here, chief election commissioner AK Joti, whose term ends on Monday, said the elections in all these states will be conducted by using electronic voting machines along with voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) . The EVM votes will be matched with the results of the VVPAT machines in one polling booth in each of the 60 constituencies in each of the three states.
Elections in these three states will be the first after the Union finance ministry notified the terms of the electoral bonds for political funding. Asked about it, Joti said it was a step in the right direction.
In Tripura, the BJP has been targeting the Manik Sarkar government for failing to create jobs and stem corruption in the state, which, they claimed, was exposed by the teacher recruitment scandal that came to light after the Supreme Court upheld a Tripura High Court verdict terminating the jobs of over 10,000 government school teachers for irregularities.
Both in Nagaland and Meghalaya, the BJP is resting heavily on the groundwork of the RSS cadre, who have been wooing various tribes. In Meghalaya, the NCP has also decided to contest at least 42 of the 60 seats. Senior party leader Praful Patel recently announced the party’s decision to contest 22 of the 24 seats in the Garo Hills region and at least 20 seats in the Khasi Hills.
Lok Sabha bypolls
The CEC also said that the decision to announce the dates of by-elections for Lok Sabha seats in Gorakhpur and Phulpur in UP, Araria in Bihar, and Anantnag in Jammu &Kashmir would be taken after fresh electoral rolls are declared next month.
Joti said the Lok Sabha poll in UP cannot be announced as the electoral rolls for the poll-bound seats with January 1, 2018 as the reference date will be published only on February 9 and all bypolls have to held on the basis of the new electoral rolls.
He also declined to comment on the status of the office-of-profit case against 20 AAP MLAs in Delhi assembly. On being asked whether the Commission’s decision has been communicated to the President, the CEC said he would not like to “comment on a sub-judice matter”.