Polling began in Meghalaya and Nagaland at 7 am on Tuesday, February 27, to elect the representatives to the Legislative Assemblies of the respective states. Voting in both the states is currently underway and will continue till 4 pm.
Voting started peacefully in Meghalaya but a blast was reported at a polling booth in Nagaland's Tizit village of Mon district about an hour before the polling started. One person suffered minor injuries in the blast, reports said.
As many as 1,100 polling stations in Nagaland were declared as critical and 530 as vulnerable, while in Meghalaya, 340 polling stations are in the critical category and 580 are in the vulnerable category. Hundreds of central armed police forces have been deployed in the states to ensure peaceful polling.
All eyes are on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as it tries to break the jinx in these Christian-dominated states.
After having won the elections in northeastern states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, BJP had gone the extra mile to sweep the region by winning in Tripura, where the election was held last week, Nagaland and Meghalaya. It will be a big breakthrough for the party, at least morally, if it conquers the northeastern region, which was once a Congress bastion.
The people's verdict will be out when the counting takes place on March 3.
Meghalaya had witnessed 88 percent voting in the 2013 assembly elections.
The state assembly election 2018 is being held in 59 constituencies of the total 60 on Tuesday after the poll in Williamnagar constituency was withheld following the murder of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate Jonathone N Sangma on February 18.
A total of 372 candidates are in the fray for 59 seats.
Current chief minister Mukul Sangma has expressed confidence of winning the elections again. The Congress, which won 29 seats in the last election, has fielded 59 candidates this time.
Meanwhile, BJP is here to give a tough fight this time around as it tries to strengthen its footing in the northeast. The party has fielded 47 candidates and formed an alliance with National People's Party (NPP), which has fielded 52 candidates.
Then, there is a third front consisting of three regional parties -- the United Democratic Party (UDP), the Hill State People's Democratic Party (HSPDP) and the Garo National Council (GNC).
The state recorded 90 percent voting in the 2013 assembly elections.
The assembly election 2018 is being held in 59 of the total 60 constituencies with former chief minister and Lok Sabha MP Neiphiu Rio of the Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) having declared as elected uncontested from 11 Northern Angami II A/C after the withdrawal of nomination by his lone rival Chupfuo Angami from the Naga People's Front (NPF).
A total of 195 candidates (excluding Neiphiu Rio) are in the fray for 59 seats in this assembly election.
NPF has been in power in the state since 2003. The party led by the present chief minister T R Zeliang has fielded 58 candidates in this year's election. It is said to be in talks with the Congress, which has 18 candidates in the fray, for a possible alliance after the polls. It allegedly broke its 15-year alliance with BJP over seat-sharing.
On the other hand, the NDPP led by the already elected Rio has entered a pre-poll alliance with BJP after agreeing to a 40-20 seat sharing strategy.