The BJP is leading by 35 seats in the 60-seated Tripura Assembly. If the leads are converted to wins, Tripura will become the 20th State where the BJP or its alliance is in power.
Tripura has remained under Left rule for 25 years. The incumbent Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, dubbed India's poorest Chief Minister , has garnered nation-wide respect.
The BJP, which has forayed into the northeast with its maiden win in Assam, wrested power in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh too. Finding a foothold in Tripura is crucial for the saffron party as it will make it a truly national party with its presence in every State. And Tripura will be the 20th State to be ruled by the BJP or a BJP alliance.
Here are the live updates
Biplab wins in Banamalipur
BJP's Tripura state President Biplab Kumar Deb registered victory by defeating DYFI state secretary Amal Chakraborty by a margin of 9,549 votes in Banamalipur constituency.
Counting in three booths in Chief Minister Manik sarkar's constituency Dhanpur has been stopped after BJP workers complained that EVM machines to do not have signatures of their polling agents.
Meanwhile, BJP wins majority in Tripura, winning 30 Assembly seats, is leading in five others.
Biplab Deb, a gym instructor-turned-politician, thanked the people of Tripura for their overwhelming support and credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah with the party’s showing.
“I am ready to take the responsibility. I will not run away from taking any responsibility,” he says replying to reporters when asked if he would accept the task of chief ministership.
Tally at 4 pm:
BJP has won 17 seats and is leading in 18. Communists are leading in 8 and have won 8 seats. The IPFT have won 6 seats and is leading in two more.
The CPI(M) Central Committee has claimed the BJP has utilised "massive deployment of money and other resources to influence the elections." The Polit Bureau thanked the people for extending support to the party for the last 25 years.
The CPI(M) will continue to champion the cause of all sections of the working people and uphold tribal and non-tribal unity.
Tripura voters have given their mandate for a BJP-IPTF government in the state. We thank the people of Tripura for giving us the opportunity to serve them for the past 25 years. We will continue to oppose BJP and its divisive agenda not only in Tripura but all over India," CPI(M) party president Sitaram Yechury says.
The BJP, CPI(M) and IPFT have won four seats each so far. While BJP is leading in 30, the Communists are ahead in 13 seats.
Tripura Agriculture minister Aghore Debbarma (CPI-M) was defeated by a margin of 6,988 votes by his nearest rival Mevar Kumar Jamatiya of IPFT in Asharambari ST constituency.
IPFT’s Prashanta Debbarma defeated his CPI-M rival Padma Debbarma by 4,235 votes in Ramchandraghat ST constituency.
Key candidate of BJP Sudip Roy Burman from Agartala constituency is leading, so is Ram Prasad Paul from Suryamaninagar. However, Subul Bhowmik is trailing from Sonamura.
First win for Communists. Bhanulal Saha has retained Bishalgarh.
The BJP has also registered its first win. Burba Mohan Tripura has won from Karbook defeating Priyamani Debbarma. Party's Ratan Lala Nath too has won from Mohanpur.
BJP Parliamentary Board will meet this evening to decide on the future Chief Minister of Tripura, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav says. “Our Parliamentary Board (the party’s highest decision making body) will meet in the evening and take a call,” he tells a press conference.
The BJP Parliamentary Board comprises Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief Amit Shah, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, besides a few others.
The first result is out. Mevar KR Jamatia has defeated agriculture and tribal welfare minister Aghore Debbarma in Asharambari. Mr. Jamatia is the first MLA from IPFT.
The IPFT or Indigenous People's Front of Tripura , is a tribal-based party functioning since 2009. This is the first-ever win for the party that has been seeking a separate state be carved out from Tripura comprising tribal dominated districts.
CPI(M) State secretary Bijan Dhar says the party “will analyse” after the final results are out. “Initial trend shows we are not in a position to form government. But let us wait for the final rounds.”
It's a mixed bag for the ministers. While the Chief Minister is leading in his constituency, six ministers are leading, while six others are trailing.
Aghore Debbarma (Ashrambari), Manik Dey (Majlishpur), Khagendra Jamatia (Krishnapur), Manindra Reang (Santirbazar), Naresh Chandra Jamatia (Bagma) are all trailing.
Jharna Das Baidya of CPI(M) is trailing behind BJP's Dilip Sarkar. Ms. Baidya is a sitting Rajya Sabha member. She was made to contest in Badharghat.
The BJP will form the government in Tripura, says an upbeat Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam Minister and BJP’s Tripura in-charge. “People were fed up with the Manik Sarkar government which has been ruling the State for more than two decades and wanted to get rid of the CPI(M) rule.”
The Assam Education Minister says the BJP’s alliance with the tribal dominated IPFT has also helped the saffron party. “Tribal votes in Tripura is around 35% and they voted for the BJP lock, stock and barrel,” he says.
The BJP and its ally have breached the majority mark if they mange to convert the leading trend to wins. While the BJP is leading in 28 out of 59 seats, its ally IPFT is leading in 8.
Chief Minister Manik Sarkar is leading from Dhanpur constituency. BJP state president Biplab Kumar Deb and party MLA Sudip Roy Burman were leading in their respective seats of Banamlipur and Agartala.
The BJP has edged past the Left Front. The party leading in 19 constituencies and the ally IPFT in another 5 seats. The Left front is leading in 16 seats.
Sudip Roy Barman, the Leader of Opposition in the current Assembly, is leading in Agartala. He has been winning from Agartala for the past four terms.
Chief Minister Manik Sarkar is leading in Dhanpur.
Deputy Speaker Pabitra Kar is trailing in Khayerpur constituency.
The BJP and IPFT coalition is leading in three seats more than the Left front.
As per the status known for 29 out of 60 constituencies, the BJP is leading in 12, while ally IPFT is leading in 4. The Left Front is leading in 13. And the Congress is nowhere in the picture.
And it is saffron versus red in Tripura. The BJP is leading in four seats, while Left in five.
Pranajit Singha Roy, who won from Radhakishorepur as a Congress candidate in last elections is leading in the same constituency. This time he is a BJP candidate.
The BJP is also leading in Ambassa, and Kalyanpur-Pramodenagar, while its ally IPFT is leading in Mandaibazar.
As per the initial trends CPI(M) is leading in five seats.
Khagendra Jamatia, the Tripura fisheries minister who passed away yesterday is leading in Krishnapur. This would have been his seventh consecutive victory. If Jamatia is declared winner, Krishnapur will go to polls again.
In all five seats, the BJP is the nearest trailing party.
In Asharambari, incumbent candidate Aghore Debbarma of CPI(M) is leading. His closest rival Mevar KR Jamatia of Indigenousn People's Front Of Tripura (IPFT), is trailing behind with just 92 votes.
The IPFT is an umbrella organisation comprising tribals of Tripura. They have been seeking a separate state for tribals. Though bifurcation is not part of BJP's plan for the State, the safforn party has entered a pre-poll arrangement with the IPFT.
The election for Charilam constituency, which was countermanded due to the death of CPI(M) candidate Ramendra Narayan Debbarma, will be held on March 12. The counting is scheduled for March 15.
Rise on saffron in red land
Mandate 2018 in Tripura has been historic as the leftists and the rightist Bharatiya Janata Party are in a straight fight for the first time.
“The red fort has been breached and it is a matter of time before the communists, which used beneficiary schemes and Central government policies only for the party cadres, bite the dust,” Sunil Deodhar, BJP’s prabhari (head) of operations in Tripura, told The Hindu on Friday.
Mr. Deodhar, a former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh member, is credited with building the BJP base in Tripura from scratch since 2014. The BJP had only 1.54% votes in the 2013 Assembly polls and 49 of the 50 candidates it fielded that year had lost their deposits.
The BJP had a strategic tie up with the Indigenous People’s Front of Twipra, which fielded candidates in nine of the 20 constituencies reserved for the State’s 19 tribes.
Apart from improving upon the cadre-based network of the CPI(M), the BJP occupied the space of the non-Left parties. More than 40 candidates, including seven MLAs, are from the Congress, which is battling for existence in Tripura.
The Left front already faced twin setbacks with the demise of two of its leaders.
The ruling CPI(M) received a setback when its candidate for the Charilam seat, Ramendra Narayan Debbarma, died of cardiac arrest a week before voting day.
The CPI(M) also lost Khangendra Jamatia, who was seeking re-election from the Krishnapur seat. Jamatia, battling cancer, died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi on Friday.
Officials said election in Krishnapur will be held again if Jamatia emerges victorious.
Counting begins. Postal ballot will be counted first.
Tripura was the first of the three poll-bound northeastern states to go for elections on February 18. Though essentially a three-cornered fight, the grand old party Congress had little to offer in the elections. Seven of its sitting MLAs had already switched to BJP. In Tripura, its a battle of pride for Congress.
(With inputs from Syed Sajjad Ali and Rahul Karmakar)