EC commissioner AK Joti announced Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura Assembly Poll Schedule

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The Election Commission on Thursday announced the poll shcedule for Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland assembly elections on Thursday.

The counting of votes for all the three states will be held on 3rd March.

Joti also announced that Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) will be used for the first time in these three states and in all polling booths.

The term of the Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura legislative assemblies is ending on March 6, March 13 and March 14 respectively. Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura have 60 Assembly seats each. After losing Assam to the BJP, retaining Meghalaya is crucial for the party. The Congress is also looking to strengthen its presence in the region.

In Nagaland, the saffron party is exploring a revival of its old alliance with the Naga People's Front (NPF).

The development has emboldened the Congress under chief minister Mukul Sangma, battling anti-incumbency and corruption charges.

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In order to make the decision on the dates for the elections in the three states, a team of Election Commission headed by the Chief Election Commissioner AK Jyoti visited the three poll-bound states to review the poll preparedness.

On the ground, the ruling party faces real challenge from BJP in the plains and Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT), a tribal outfit, in the hills. In Meghalaya, the Congress has 24 MLAs, the UDP seven, the HSPDP four, the BJP and the NCP two each and others 10. Although the NPP and the BJP have no pre-poll alliance, the prospect of a post-poll alliance is clear.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which did not win even a single seat in the last polls, has been working hard to overthrow the CPI (M) rule this time.

In Tripura, the Left Front has been in power since 1993 and Chief Minister Manik Sarkar is heading the government for the fourth consecutive term.

The regional parties - UDP, HSPDP and the NPP - are of the view that "a wind of change" is blowing in the state.

The BJP's "Northeast policy" took off in 2016 when it ended the Congress party's 15-year rule in Assam to form a coalition government with two regional parties.

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