Monday, Jun 05, 2023

Northeast Election Results: Stakes High For BJP In Tripura, Meghalaya And Nagaland

Northeast Election Results: Stakes High For BJP In Tripura, Meghalaya And Nagaland

The assembly elections in the three Northeast Indian states of Tripura, Meghalaya, and Nagaland have become a battle of prestige for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is hoping to make gains.

Counting of votes in the three Northeast Indian states of Tripura, Meghalaya, and Nagaland will take place today.
Counting of votes in the three Northeast Indian states of Tripura, Meghalaya, and Nagaland will take place today.

Three states in northeast India today expect results of the high-stake 2023 legislative assembly elections that were held earlier last month. The elections have become a battle of prestige for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has contested the polls in each state and is hoping to make gains.

In its February issue, on the elections in the Northeast, Outlook looked at stories of ‘othering’ that flow through the northeastern districts. 

In Tripura, Outlook looked at the rising might of the BJP in the northeastern state dominated by Bengali politics. It examined the rise of the two-year-old party launched by the royal family scion Pradyot Bikram Kishore Manikya Deb Barma and how the Left-Congress alliance have turned the hilly state’s political space competitive

In Nagaland, ahead of the elections, Outlook focused on a new, Centre-endorsed movement for statehood within the state that seems to be colouring electoral politics, diluting the state’s demand for the ‘Naga solution’. It also looked at how various strands of identity, socio-politics, territorial integrity, and violence impact politics in the state.

In Meghalaya, Outlook tried to tell the stories of hundreds of villages that fall in the coal belt. Thousands of people in the East Jaintia Hills, West Khasi Hills, and West Jaintia Hills were dependent on the coal mining deposits found along the southern fringe of the Shillong plateau.  

Outlook also tried to analyse the BJP’s attempt to make inroads into Christian-dominated Nagaland and Meghalaya and how the saffron brigade is deploying customised winning strategies, even invoking Rani Gaidinliu, the noted Naga freedom fighter. 

The issue also tried to understand how the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Hindutva ideology in the Northeast is still in the making, even though it has been accelerated by the BJP coming to power, first at the Centre in 2014 and then in several states across India. 


Preparations have been completed for the counting of votes in Tripura. Elections to the 60 assembly constituencies in the state were held on February 16, with around 89.98 per cent of voters exercising their franchise. As many as 259 candidates from different political parties are in the fray.

Meanwhile, prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC have been clamped across the state from 6 pm on March 1 to 6 am on March 3 to prevent any untoward incident, but essential services and examinees have been kept out of its purview. Security personnel conducted flag marches in different areas of Agartala as a confidence-building measure. Around 25,000 security forces and personnel have been deployed in the state. 

For the first time, the Left Front is contesting assembly elections with its erstwhile arch-rival Congress. In the 2018 assembly elections, the BJP won 36 seats, while its ally IPFT bagged 18 constituencies. The CPI(M)-led Left Front emerged victorious in 16 seats, while the Congress drew a blank.


Counting will be held at 13 centres across the state today. The turnout was 85.25 per cent. Polling was held in a free and fair manner and no untoward incident was reported.

Though Meghalaya has a 60-member assembly, polling in the Sohiong constituency was adjourned following the death of one of the candidates. The ruling National People's Party (NPP) is vying to retain power in the northeastern state, while the BJP, Trinamool Congress (TMC), and other regional parties are hoping to bring about a change in the government.

The Congress and the BJP contested 59 seats, while the NPP had put up nominees in 56 constituencies, the TMC in 57 and the UDP in 46.


A total of 83.63 per cent of votes were cast on Monday.  One seat was won uncontested by BJP. The grand old party Congress, which had ruled the state till 2003, does not have any members in the current house. It fielded 23 aspirants and is expected to win at least two seats. 

In 2018, the alliance won 30 seats — 18 by the regional party and 12 by the saffron party. It managed to defeat the 15 years reign of the Naga People’s Front with the support of two MLAs of the National People's Party of Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, one of JD(U) and an Independent MLA.

The NDPP-BJP alliance in Nagaland on Tuesday welcomed the exits poll predictions which gave a second term to its incumbent government in the state and reaffirmed its commitment to run the next one together. The NDPP-BJP alliance is the only pre-poll one in the northeastern state and contested the February 27 Nagaland Assembly election on a 40:20 seat-sharing basis for the 60-member House.

Eyes are trained on four women candidates — Rosy Thomson of Congress, Hekhani Jakhalu of NDPP, Salhoutuonuo Kruse of NDPP, and Kahuli Sema of BJP, who are in the poll fight from Tenning, Dimapur-III, Western Angami, and Atoizu respectively. Nagaland has not elected a woman lawmaker since it became a state in 1963.

Meanwhile, repolling took place on March 1 after the Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday announced repolling in four polling stations out of the 2,291 polling stations across Nagaland. 

Stakes are high for BJP 

Stakes are high for the BJP ahead of the counting as results will signal if it has deepened its roots in Tripura, a Left bastion captured by the party in 2018, and made further inroads in Meghalaya and Nagaland, or the Opposition has managed to dent its influence.

Among the three states, Tripura promises to have more national resonance than the two others as traditional rivals Congress and the Left have joined hands for the first time to challenge the BJP in the election to the state's 60-member assembly. In this battle among the national parties, it is the Pradyot Debbarma-led TIPRA Motha that has emerged as an X-factor as the sway of its founder —scion of erstwhile royalty— among a big section of the tribal population has disturbed conventional calculations, more so as the BJP and its ally Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) had done well in the tribal region in 2018.

The BJP's stunning rise after having failed to win a single seat in 2013 to a majority on its own five years later by decimating the Left citadel for two decades was projected by the party as its ideological victory over its rivals and a loss will be seen as a setback despite Tripura's relatively marginal influence on national politics.

While regional parties remain bigger players in both Meghalaya and Nagaland, the BJP ran a determined campaign with its bigwigs, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in the states to expand its footprints.

For the first time, the BJP has fought on all 60 seats in Meghalaya and constantly targeted National People's Party leader and Chief Minister Conrad Sangma for running the “most corrupt” state government in the country.

The BJP was a partner in the state government but broke ties ahead of the polls. The party hopes to boost its strength from two in the assembly to emerge as a more powerful player if the verdict throws up a hung assembly like the last time.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the BJP's pointsman for the northeast region, met Sangma after the polls in an indication that the two parties can do business together again.   

An interesting sideshow to these elections is the strong push by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress to make an impact in the polls to project itself as a stronger challenger to the BJP than the Congress, more so as the countdown to the next Lok Sabha polls in 2024 begins.

In Outlook’s February issue, we looked at the three states and at the electoral politics that are driving the polls this year. Read all stories here