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Results to reflect India's mood

Political parties are holding their breath as election officials gear up to count the votes of the Feb 26 elections in four states on March 1.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2003 08:44 IST

India is set to get a hint of people's mood ahead of elections in four major states later this year as results of the February 26 polling in Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura come out today.

Counting of votes began at 8 a.m in all the four states, which went to polls in the first major test for the main rivals Congress and BJP since the latter's unprecedented sweep in Gujarat elections despite world-wide criticism of Modi Govt. All results are expected to be out by noon as electronic voting machines were used in all states.

Seven persons, including five BSF personnel were killed, and three injured and a number of electronic voting machines damaged in stray violence in north-east as 68% of an estimated 8.31 million voters cast their ballots in the four states.

While polling was held in 65 of the 68 assembly constituencies in Himachal Pradesh all 60 constituencies in each of the three north-eastern states had gone to polls. Polling in three snow-bound constituencies of Himachal -- Lahaul Spiti, Kinnaur and Pangi Bharmaur, had earlier been postponed to June.

Tripura recorded the highest 75 per cent, Nagaland 70, Meghalaya 68 and Himachal Pradesh 70 per cent respectively.

As many as 8.3 million voters and some 1,200 candidates were involved in the February 26 polls

Among the prominent candidates whose electoral fates were decided include chief ministers Prem Kumar Dhumal (Himachal Pradesh), SC Jamir (Nagaland), Flinder Anderson Khonglam (Meghalaya), Manik Sarkar (Tripura), former chief ministers VB Singh, Sudhir Ranjan Majumdar and Samir Ranjan Burman.

The term of Meghalaya assembly ends on March 8, Himachal Pradesh on March 11 and those of Nagaland and Tripura on March 22.

While Congress rules Meghalaya and Nagaland, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) governs Tripura while BJP rules in Himachal Pradesh.

By-elections: By-elections were simultaneously held in six assembly constituencies spread across five states - Uttar Pradesh (Gauriganj and Haidergarh), Jammu and Kashmir (Pampore), Tamil Nadu (Sattankulam), Karnataka (Humnabad), Maharashtra (Bhokarden). The by-poll results will also come out on Saturday.

The by-poll result that is keenly awaited in Gauriganj, which falls in the Amethi parliamentary constituency of Sonia Gandhi, and Sattankulam, where a rejuvenated Congress has taken on Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK party with the tacit backing of the main opposition DMK party.

The Congress has tried to counter the BJP's Hindu-tinged appeal in Himachal Pradesh with an aggressive campaign against Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal's government, focussing on its alleged acts of corruption.

In Meghalaya, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) - which has a ruling alliance with the Congress -- denied Chief Minister FA Khonglam a ticket, accusing him of corruption. But the NCP and Congress went it alone, and the Congress has already declared that it won't tie up with NCP post-polls.

Nagaland Chief Minister SC Jamir faces an opposition united under the banner of the National Democratic Alliance this time, a contrast from the last elections in 1998 when he had an easy win due to a boycott by main opposition parties.

In insurgency-hit Tripura, the citizens will pick from 250-odd contestants under the shadow of several murderous attacks on political activists.

The banned National Liberation Front of Tripura has killed some 35 activists of the ruling CPI-M, whose main challenger will be the Congress.

First Published: Mar 01, 2003 08:00 IST