New Delhi: Lots at stake for the Congress and the Left as counting of votes in the Assembly elections for two north-eastern states — Tripura and Meghalaya — is set to begin on Friday morning.
While the fate of 331 candidates, including 19 women and 73 independents, contesting in 59 Assembly constituencies will be decided in Meghalaya; 313 candidates, including 31 women and 64 independents, are in fray for the 60-member Assembly in Tripura.
In Meghalaya, the counting of votes will begin in 15 centres spread across the state at 8 am and the results are expected to be out by noon, Chief Electoral Officer P Naik said.
He said, apart from three places in Shillong, votes would be counted in centres at the district headquarters and sub-divisional offices.
Election to the Baghmara seat in South Garo Hills has been rescheduled for March 22 following the death of Congress MLA and candidate Sengran M Sangma.
The ruling Congress faces a strong challenge from the PA Sangma-led NCP in the state.
Among those whose fate will be decided on Friday are incumbent Chief Minister D D Lapang (Nongpoh seat), his five predecessors — JD Rymbai (Jirang), FA Khonglam (Sohra), EK Mawlong (Umro) and SC Marak (Resubelpara) and former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma (Tura).
Others in the fray are Lapang's deputies Mukul M Sangma (Ampatigiri) and Donkupar Roy (Shella). The Congress is contesting in all the seats, while the United Democratic Party came a close second with 52 candidates and the NCP in 50 seats. There are 73 Independent candidates.
Meghalaya recorded an all-time high turn out of 89.05 per cent in the March 3 polling.
In Tripura, the CPI-M hopes to stage yet another comeback to power as counting of votes is set to begin at 19 centres in 17 subdivisions of four districts.
The counting process is likely to be completed by 12 noon, Chief Election Officer G S G Ayyanger said. Postal ballots would be counted first and after that EVMs would be opened, Ayyanger said, adding that the result would be officially announced in the afternoon.
Tripura Director General of Police K T D Singh said all police stations and border outposts along the 856 km Indo-Bangla border in the state were alerted ahead of the counting.
BSF was also alerted to check infiltration of any criminals or insurgents from across the border, he said, adding the strength of police stations and outposts were increased.
(With agency inputs)