Counting In March 3 In Nagaland, Tripura & Meghalaya

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New Delhi: The wait for change, or more of the same, in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura will come to an end on Saturday. The verdict of around 56 lakh voters across these three northeastern States was sealed on February 18 and 27.

With 180 Assembly seats and five parliamentary seats in total, the elections in these small States have often been mere formalities.

But last month’s elections, ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, have raised the stakes for the three major players — the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Congress — as well as a smattering of regional parties. The three States have 60-member Assemblies. A party or coalition needs at least 31 seats for forming a government.

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Having bagged Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur in a region that was considered its “final frontier,” the BJP has been on an aggressive expansion mode. The hurdle in Tripura is a deeply entrenched Left Front, headed by the CPI(M), which has been ruling the State for 25 years.

The BJP’s ambition in Meghalaya and Nagaland is a tad less, given the demographic and religious composition there. It has tied up with regional parties against the common enemy: the Congress. However, the pact has been confirmed only in Nagaland.