Three-tier security has been provided across all the seats, particularly in Arunachal Pradesh which witnessed unprecedented violence.
Counting of votes for 25 Lok Sabha seats across the eight north-eastern states and 60 Assembly seats in Arunachal Pradesh began at 8 am on Thursday.
The focus of the day of verdict is on Assam, which has 14 of the 25 parliamentary seats, where counting would be held at 51 centres across 33 districts.
The BJP, the major coalition partner in the three-party alliance in Assam, hopes to improve upon the seven seats it won in 2014 while prime rival Congress seeks to regain lost ground. The BJP had fielded 10 candidates leaving three and one to allies Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland People’s Party — members of the NDA — respectively.
While the BJP was upbeat about the NDA winning most of the 14 seats, the AGP in particular has not been so confident. “Our chances would have been brighter in Kaliabor had the (perfume baron Badruddin Ajmal’s) All India United Democratic Front put up a candidate, while the other seats are touch and go,” Minister and AGP president Atul Bora said.
Without the AIUDF cutting into the sizeable Muslim votes, former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s son Gaurav Gogoi is expected to retain the Kaliabor seat. Each of the other two seats — Barpeta and Dhubri — where the AGP is contesting has more than 70% Muslim voters.
Three-tier security has been provided across all the seats, particularly in Arunachal Pradesh where election to two parliamentary seats and 60 Assembly seats was marked by unprecedented violence. The violence resulted in several rounds of re-polling, the last of which on May 21 in Kurung Kumey and Kra-Daadi districts coincided with the killing of MLA Tirong Aboh and 10 others including his 20-year-old son in an ambush by suspected NSCN extremists.
Mr Aboh, who was elected on a People’s Party of Arunachal ticket in 2014, was seeking to retain the Khonsa West Assembly constituency as a National People’s Party candidate.
Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju is seeking re-election from the Arunachal West parliamentary seat. His main rival is former Chief Minister Nabam Tuki of the Congress.
The election to two parliamentary seats in Tripura — Tripura East and Tripura West — was also violent necessitating re-poll in 168 polling stations in the Tripura West constituency on May 12. The counting in Tripura will be held across 17 centres.
Polling in the rest of the north-east was relatively peaceful. “We have 40 halls at 10 centres for counting of votes for the lone seat in the State,” Mizoram’s Chief Election Officer Ashish Kundra said.
His Meghalaya counterpart Frederick Roy Kharkongor said the counting for the two seats in the State at 13 centres. The seats are Shillong, where states are high for coal mine owner Vincent Pala of the Congress, and Tura, where former CM Mukul M. Sangma is pitted against former Union minister Agatha K. Sangma, daughter of former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A. Sangma.
Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was the main strategist for the BJP and its allies, had claimed that the NDA would win 18-20 seats in the northeast. The Congress claimed this was easier said than done.
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