New Delhi (PTI) Assembly polls will be held in Tripura on February 16, followed by Nagaland and Meghalaya on February 27, with the counting of votes scheduled for March 2, the Election Commission (EC) announced on Wednesday.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar's announcement at a press conference marked the official start of the first round of Assembly polls in the new year, in which nine states are headed for elections, deemed crucial in the run-up to the Lok Sabha contest in 2024.
The three poll-bound northeastern states may be small in terms of their electoral size but hold larger political significance. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is pulling out all the stops to retain power in Tripura and expand its footprint in the two other states, while the Congress and the Left are trying to regain their lost influence. The Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) is in power in Nagaland. The National People's Party (NPP), the only political party from the northeast that has the recognition of a national party, runs the government in Meghalaya.
The five-year term of assemblies of Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura will end on March 12, March 15 and March 22, respectively, and before that period, new assemblies have to be constituted.
All three states have 60 constituency seats that political parties will be in fray for.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) led by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is also making a determined bid to prove its clout outside West Bengal by contesting in these polls.
The three Assemblies have a strength of 60 members each. The term of the Nagaland Assembly ends on March 12, while the terms of the Meghalaya and Tripura Assemblies end on March 15 and March 22 respectively.
Mr Kumar said the EC has decided to wrap up the polls in February, taking into account the examinations scheduled in March.
The Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) are expected to join hands to take on the BJP in Tripura, where the Left ruled for 25 years while the Congress was its main rival, before the saffron wave swept aside both in the 2018 polls.
The Congress had long been a dominant player in the northeast, before the BJP's rise to power at the Centre.
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