Results for assembly elections in the three states of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura were declared on 28th of February. As it happened to be Budget Day, not many in Main Stream Media paid keen attention to the election results. Here we try to analyze, what the results mean and whether they give any indication of which way the wind is blowing in the country.
In Meghalaya, Congress managed to retain the state. It is still two seats short of majority but it is expected that with help of Independents and other small parties, it should have no problem in obtaining the majority. In the previous assembly too it did not have a majority and had allied with UDP. However, UDP did not have any pre poll alliance with Congress in this election. NPP, which is founded by P A Sangma, former Lok Sabha speaker could win only two seat in its debut elections. Independents have manged to win 22% of seats in the state assembly. Congress reached close to majority despite getting just around 1/3rd of total votes polled. This gives an indication that if anti Congress votes had not been divided between UDP, HSDP, NCP, NPP and some Independents results would have been different. A closer look at Close Contests show that out of 29 seats won by Congress, 19 were won because of candidates at third position i.e. on these seats victory margin of Congress was less than the votes secured by candidates at third position. In 2009 parliamentary elections, Congress had polled 44.8% votes in the state and had won one seat. The other seat was won by P A Sangma’s daughter who contested as an NCP candidate. In 2014, if the same voting pattern continues, Congress can end up winning both the seats in the state despite getting 10% less vote share than what it got in 2009. However, if UDP and NPP unite, Congress would not win a single seat in the state if the voting pattern of 2013 assembly election is replicated in 2014 parliamentary election.
In Nagaland, NPF got very close to two-third majority as it won 38 out of 60 seats. This is the second highest tally for any party in the state since 1977. The highest number of seats was won by Congress in 1998 assembly elections when it was the only party which contested the assembly elections. Congress had then won 53 seats in the state, out of which 43 were won uncontested i.e. on these seats, there was no other candidate in the fray apart from Congress. On 17 seats, Independents had contested and Congress could win 10 of these 17 seats. In 2003 and 2008, no single party could get absolute majority in the state. It is remarkable that NPF retained the state and with an improved majority. If the same voting pattern continues in 2014 parliamentary election, NPF which has been winning the lone parliamentary seat in the state since 2004 would win the seat again for the third time.
Tripura, continues to be a left bastion. Left Front has been in power in the state since 1993. In fact CPM has been the single largest party in the state since 1977 Even in 1988, when Congress formed the government in the state, CPM had won more seats than Congress. The recent assembly elections in Tripura had caught the attention of national media when Rahul Gandhi in his election campaign predicted that this last left bastion too would fall like West Bengal and Kerala. The elections results obviously proved otherwise. In 2009, CPM had won both the parliamentary seats in the state. The results would be same in 2014 parliamentary elections if the voting pattern of assembly elections continue.
Most political analysts had predicted that Congress would win the three states. This was based on assumption that ruling parties in Tripura and Nagaland would face strong anti incumbency and Congress would benefit in Meghalaya because of lack of unity in opposition. But in Tripura and Nagaland, the ruling parties returned with a bigger mandate than in 2008. In Meghalaya, Congress could not take full advantage of the division in opposition ranks and was still two seats short of majority.
One might argue that no strong conclusion can be drawn based on these states as the three states together contribute just five Lok Sabha seats. However, the election results are a major setback to Congress as it was expecting to comfortably win all the three states.