Assembly Election 2023: The three northeastern states are the first to have assembly polls this year.
Tripura will vote for a new government on February 16th, and Meghalaya and Nagaland on the 27th, with results on March 2, the Election Commission announced on Wednesday.
The terms of all three state assemblies, each with a strength of 60 members, end in March - Nagaland on March 12, Meghalaya on March 15 and Tripura on March 22.
The poll schedule of the three states was chalked out keeping in mind high school examinations and the movement of security forces, reports said.
"There are more than 62.8 lakh electors combined in Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura including - 31.47 lakh female electors, 97,000 80-plus voters. Over 1.76 lakh first-time voters to participate in the elections in 3 states," Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said at a news conference.
While the three north-eastern states are the first to have assembly polls this year, a special focus will be on Tripura, which the BJP won for the first time in 2018.
The BJP is also part of the government in Meghalaya, where the National People's Party (NPP), the only party from the Northeast to have a national status, will be defending its turf.
In Nagaland, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party runs the government in Meghalaya, also in alliance with the BJP.
After the BJP's historic win in Tripura in 2018, ending 25 years of communist rule, Biplab Deb became the Chief Minister.
However, he was removed last May due to growing discontent and replaced by Dr Manik Saha, who now faces the challenge of resolving internal conflicts within the state unit.
Additionally, the BJP's relationship with its key ally, the tribal outfit Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT), is currently strained.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah recently visited the state to address these issues and mobilise support for the party through a "Jana Vishwas Yatra".
On the other side of the ring, the Left and the Congress have joined forces in Tripura, similar to their unsuccessful alliance in West Bengal in 2021, to defeat the BJP.
Former Tripura royal Pradyut Manikya, who was previously with the Congress, has founded Tipra Motha, which could prove to be a significant factor in the elections due to his influence on tribal seats.
Meghalaya, currently ruled by Conrad Sangma's National People's Party, has seen a series of new political alignments in the lead-up to the elections, with several legislators switching sides.
The NPP and its ally BJP have experienced growing fissures in recent months, but the two parties are expected to contest the elections together.
These elections will also be a crucial test for Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress, which entered Meghalaya two years ago through the defection of 12 of the 17 Congress MLAs, led by former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma. Three of them have since left.
In Nagaland, the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), the BJP, and the Naga People's Front (NPF) is going strong, and the elections will be an interesting affair as there is no significant opposition.