Assembly elections in Tripura will be held on February 18 while two other northeastern states of Meghalaya and Nagaland will go to polls on February 27, the Election Commission announced today. Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti said the counting in the three states will be held on March 3. The term of the Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura assemblies is ending on March 6, March 13 and March 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. The 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 press conference. A total of 25,69,216 people are entitled to vote in Tripura, 11,89,264 in Nagaland and 18,30,104 in Meghalaya. The Congress, battling internal rebellion by MLAs in Meghalaya, is in power with Mukul Sangma as the chief minister.
After losing Assam to the BJP, retaining Meghalaya is crucial for the party. The Naga People's Front rules Nagaland under the chief ministership of T R Zeliang. In Tripura, the Left is in power for five terms with Chief Minister Manik Sarkar on the driver's seat for four consecutive terms. Besides Kerala, Tripura is the only state where CPI-M led front is in power. Sarkar will have to come over anti- incumbency as the BJP and the Trinamool Congress are eyeing power in the state bordering Bangladesh. The present assembly strength in Tripura is largely tilted in favour of the Left with the CPI-M having 50 members and the CPI one. The BJP has seven MLAs while the Congress has two lawmakers in the state. In Meghalaya, the Congress has 24 MLAs, the UDP seven, the HSPDP four, the BJP and the NCP two each and others 10. There are nine vacancies in the state assembly. In Nagaland, the ruling NPF has 45 legislators, the BJP four and the JD (U) one MLA. The NCP has one lawmaker, while there are nine Independents. One seat is vacant. Like Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, paper trail machines will be used along with EVMs in all polling stations of each assembly constituency of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura to enhance the 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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