In a saffron surge in the northeast, the BJP put up a spectacular show in Tripura on Saturday, ending 25 years of the Left rule, and was looking to formation of coalition governments in Nagaland and Meghalaya in the face of hung verdicts.
The BJP and its ally Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT), a tribal-dominated party, were together leading in 39 out of 59 constituencies for which trends of results were available. The BJP on its own was ahead in 33 seats, two more than the half-way mark, while its ally was leading in seven. The IPFT has already bagged one seat.
In Tripura, the BJP which had no MLAs in the outgoing assembly and had polled just 1.5 per cent votes in the 2013 elections, losing deposits in 49 of the 50 constituencies it contested, recorded a scintillating performance securing over 42 per cent of votes in the February 18 elections.
The Left Front, which had 50 seats in the last elections, was ahead in just 18 seats. The CPI-M-CPI alliance has polled over 44 per cent of votes, about six per cent less than the last elections. The CPI-M alone has polled 43.3 per cent, one per cent higher than the winning BJP.
Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, who has been heading the Left Front government for the last 20 years, was ahead in Dhanpur constituency.
The BJP's leading candidates included state party President Biplab Kumar Deb (Banamalipur), who could be the next Chief Minister of the state. The other winners are Sudip Roy Barman (Agartala), Ratanlal Nath (Mohanpur), A. Rampada Jamatia (Bagma), Dilip Kumar Das (Barjala), Diba Chandra Hrangkhawl (Karamchara), Ashish Kumar Saha (Bordowali), Ratan Chakraborty (Khayerpur), Atul Debbarma (Krishnapur) and Sushanta Chowdhury (Majlishpur).
IPFT's leading candidates included Narendra Chandra Debbarma (Takarjala), Mevar Kumar Jamatia (Asharambari) and Prashanta Debbarma (Ramchandraghat).
"We are happy with the trends in Tripura where the BJP looks like forming a government with 40 or more seats," BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav told reporters in Agartala.
He conceded that the CPI-M gave a good fight but people voted for change to throw up "a revolutionary verdict, a historic verdict".
The Congress, which had 10 members in the outgoing assembly, failed to even open its account this time. Many of its candidates may even lose their deposits.
Among the notable Left candidates trailing were sitting Tribal Welfare Minister Aghore Debbarma (Asharambari), Forest and Rural Development Minister Narensh Chandra Jamatia (Bagma), Deputy Speaker Pabitra Kar (Khayerpur), Bijay Laxmi Sinha (Kamalpur), Samiran Malakar (Pabiachara), Manoranjan Debbarma (Mandai Bazar), Ratan Das (Ramnagar), Manindra Chandra Das (Kalyanpur-Promodnagar) and Chief Whip Basudeb Majumder (Belonia).
Among the Left Front's leading candidates were Health and PWD Minister Badal Choudhury (Hrishamukh), Education Minister Tapan Chakraborty (Chandipur), Information, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bhanulal Saha (Bishalgarh), Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Sahid Chowdhury, Assembly Speaker Ramendra Chandra Debbarma and Jail Minister Manindra Reang.
A total of 290 candidates, including 23 women of the ruling CPI-M, Communist Party of India, BJP and Congress and many independents, were in the fray.
Polling in Charilam (reserved for the tribals) was deferred to March 12 after CPI-M candidate Ramendra Narayan Debbarma died a week before the February 18 polls.
Over 92 per cent (excluding 50,700 postal ballots) of Tripura's over 25 lakh voters cast their votes on February 18, setting a new record in India's electoral history.
In Nagaland, the ruling Naga Peoples Front (NPF) was leading in 20 and has already won four seats in the 60-member assembly. Interestingly, the BJP, leading in seven seats, has two ministers in the NPF government but had stitched a pre-poll alliance with the National Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) that was leading in 14 seats.
The figures are for the 50 out of 59 seats that went to polls on February 27.
The NPF headed by Chief Minister T.R. Zeing has already passed a resolution, expressing its desire to continue its alliance with the BJP.
The National Peoples Party was ahead in three seats while independents were leading in two.
The voting was held in 59 of the total 60 constituencies as three-time Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio of the NDPP was declared elected unopposed from Northern Angami-II constituency.
Meghalaya, once a Congress bastion, appeared headed for a government of non-Congress forces. The ruling Congress has won 11 seats and was leading in nine more. In the last elections, it had won 29 seats in the 60-member assembly.
The National People's Party (NPP), a possibly BJP ally, has won three and was ahead in 16 constituencies. The BJP was leading in two constituencies.
With power at the Centre, the BJP can look to cobble a post-poll coalition to form a government roping in smaller parties with the NPP at the head. The smaller winning parties include PDF, ahead in four constituencies, UDP, which has won two and was ahead in four seats.
The HSPDP has won one seat and was ahead in one more. The KHNAM has won one seat while the NCP was ahead in one seat. Independents have won two seats and were ahead in two more.
The BJP has already despatched its leader and North East Democratic Alliance convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma to Shillong to try and form a non-Congress government in Meghalaya.
The Congress has also sent its senior leaders Ahmed Patel and Kamal Nath in view of the a likelyhood that it may emerge as the single largest party in the Meghalaya assembly polls.
Ram Madhav gave indications of the BJP strategy, saying: "There is a possibility of a non-Congress government in Meghalaya and our effort would be towards that."
Polling for 59 out of the state's 60 assembly seats was held on February 27. The election to one seat was countermanded following the killing of a candidate.
In Meghalaya, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma was favourably placed in both the constituencies - Ampati and Songsak - from which he is in the electoral race.
NPP chief Conrad Sangma, son of late P.A. Sangma, was leading over his nearest rival Bakul Ch. Hajong of the BJP. Sanhma has won five consecutive terms from Ampati constituency since 1993.
Polling to the Williamnagar seat was countermanded following the killing of NCP candidate Jonathone Sangma in an IED blast at Sawilgre area in East Garo Hills district on February 18.