Counting of votes in the hotly contested Tripura assembly election 2018 has ended. The BJP, spearheaded by its Tripura chief Biplab Kumar Deb, got 43 seats along with its ally the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura. The 20-year run of Chief Minister Manik Sarkar of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M) has ended. "People in Tripura wanted to change the communist government for a long time. The mood is there," Biplab Kumar Deb, a former RSS volunteer who also fought his first election, told NDTV. At 49, he is the youngest state BJP chief in the country and is said to have built the party organisation from scratch in Tripura. Mr Sarkar, on the other hand, who ran for his fifth term as chief minister, addressed some 50 rallies in Tripura.
Here are the highlights of Tripura election results 2018:
The Congress under Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has won 21 seats in Meghalaya of the 59 constituencies for which the election was held. The National People's Party, on the other hand, won 18 seats. The BJP managed to get only two seats.
Following the BJP's win in the Tripura assembly election, the party's West Bengal unit said this will impact state politics and predicted a "sea change" in Bengal's political scenario in six months. "It is the people who have brought about the change in Tripura. They will bring about the change in Bengal too... We have full support from our national leadership. I think there will be a sea change in Bengal within six months," state Bharatiya Janata Party president Dilip Ghosh said.
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah for the party's victory in Tripura. "Congratulations Narendra Modi-ji, Amit Shah-ji, BJP karyakartas and the people of north east for the splendid performance of BJP in assembly polls and for this historic victory in Tripura," Mr Parrikar tweeted.
BJP's north east strategist Himanta Biswa Sarma was sent to Shillong today to try and form a government without the Congress in Meghalaya amid the likelihood of a split verdict. The Congress has also sent its senior leaders Ahmed Patel and Kamal Nath as the party might also emerge as the single-largest party in the Meghalaya assembly election.
A BJP supporter in Agartala celebrates as the party takes a lead over the Left Front in the state. CPI(M) leader and Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar's 20-year rule appears to have ended with the rise of the BJP in the north east state under its state chief Biplab Kumar Deb.
The BJP parliamentary board will meet today evening to pick a name for Tripura chief minister. The party is likely to form government in Tripura, where the Left under Manik Sarkar has been in power for 20 years. "Our parliamentary board will meet in the evening and take a call," BJP north east in-charge Ram Madhav told reporters.
Biplab Kumar Dev, 49, is among BJP's chief minister picks for Tripura. The former RSS volunteer is also the BJP's youngest chief in any state. He was a gym instructor when he shifted to Delhi 15 years ago. The BJP leader was mentored by the party's Tripura in-charge Sunil Deodhar.
BJP and ally IPFT surge ahead of the Left Front in Tripura, lead in 37 seats out of 54 for which trends available, data on the Election Commission's website shows.
The BJP campaigned aggressively in Tripura, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi also addressing four rallies in which he urged people to pick "HIRA (H for highway, I for Internet way, R for roadways and A for airways) instead of Manik", using a word play between hira (diamond) and manik (gem).
The biggest story in the north east election - the first of a series of elections this year - is the end of Left's two-decade rule and four-time Chief Minister Manik Sarkar's almost impenetrable fortress in Tripura.
"The leads we are seeing in Tripura so far are very satisfying. We are headed towards the direction of forming the government. We will wait for the final results, but we believe we will form the government with 40-plus seats."
Ram Madhav, BJP
Ram Madhav, BJP
For some BJP supporters in Tripura, where the party is leading, it's an extended Holi celebrations.
The BJP and its ally Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) were leading in 31 out of the 47 constituencies whose trends were available, according to Election Commission data. Election in 59 seats for the 60-member Tripura assembly was held on February 18. Polling was countermanded in one seat due to the death of a CPI(M) candidate.
"It will be a landslide victory in Tripura. After one hour it will prove to be a tsunami. We will form the government with two-thirds majority. This is thanks to master-strategist Amit Shah, Himanta Biswa Sarma and Ram Madhav. PM Modi's four rallies in this small state also helped us a lot."
Sunil Deodhar, BJP
Sunil Deodhar, BJP
BJP supporters celebrate after the party was said to be leading in Tripura. The Left has been ruling Tripura for 20 years.
"There's going be a huge political change in Tripura. A big blow to the Left there. Ground reports suggest a victory for us," union minister Kiren Rijiju said. There is a sense of jubilation among BJP workers in Tripura.
As at 10:42 am, the BJP is leading in 24 seats in Tripura, according to data on the Election Commission's website. The CPI(M) is leading in 17 seats.
"We need to wait for the third and fourth rounds of counting. It's too early to jump to conclusions... People of Tripura will stop the communal campaign of the BJP," CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat told NDTV.
In Tripura, where the exit polls said BJP would get two-thirds majority, the Left is holding the lead for now.
Manik Sarkar, Tripura Chief Minister for 20 years, is fighting for a fifth term. He is India's "poorest chief minister" with assets worth Rs 26 lakh. Manik Sarkar became Chief Minister at the age of 49 in 1998. Tripura is one of two states ruled by the Left.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar is leading from Dhanpur. BJP state unit president Biplab Kumar Deb is leading from Banamalipur seat.
As at 8:49 am, the BJP is leading in Tripura with 19 seats; the Left has taken 13 seats, and the Congress has won in one seat so far.
Balloting in Charilam in Tripura, reserved for tribals, has been deferred to March 12 after the death of a CPI(M) candidate.
Additional Chief Electoral Officer of Tripura Tapas Ray said counting is on in 59 counting halls for 59 constituencies in 20 sub-divisions of all eight districts. A three-tier security arrangement has been made for all the counting centres, Mr Ray said, adding that it is expected that the results would be out by five hours.
BJP supporters come out on the streets in Agartala, Tripura. The Left Front led by the CPI(M) has been in power in the North East state under the chief ministership of Manik Sarkar.
Election officials take their seats at a counting centre in Agartala, Tripura. The Left Front led by the CPI(M) has been in power in Tripura for 25 years.
Counting of votes has begun in Tripura, where Manik Sarkar's Left Front government led by the CPI(M) has been in power for 25 years.
Rapid Action Force personnel guard a counting centre in Agartala, Tripura. The results of the Tripura assembly election 2018 will be announced today. CPI(M)-led Left Front under Manik Sarkar is facing a BJP onslaught, led by state party president Biplab Kumar Deb, in the north east state.
Both the ruling CPI(M)-led Left Front and the opposition BJP sounded optimistic about forming the next government in Tripura. Communist Party of India (Marxist) Tripura State Secretary Bijan Dhar said the Left parties were "overconfident" of forming the next state government. BJP Tripura unit president Biplab Kumar Deb said: "People want change. People strongly wish for a BJP government in Tripura. It is certain that the BJP will form the next government in Tripura."
In Tripura, the ruling Left Front's campaign strategy rests on one face: Chief Minister Manik Sarkar. For years, the four-time chief minister's clean image had been enough to see his party through. This time, Mr Sarkar's most ardent supporters concede he has a fight on his hands.
Of 25 lakh voters in Tripura, a little over 13 lakh were male and12 lakh were women. According to the Election Commission, 47,803 people voted for the first time in Tripura.
The Congress went alone in Tripura this time and contested in all 59 seats. The party did not field any candidate for Kakrabon constituency in Gomati district.
CPI(M) leader Manik Sarkar contested from Dhanpur constituency while the BJP state chief Biplab Kumar Deb contested from Banamalipur constituency.
Polling was held in 59 of the total 60 seats. Voting in Charilam assembly constituency will be held on March 12 due to the death of CPI(M) candidate for the seat, Ramendra Narayan Deb Barma.
The BJP, which has forged an alliance with tribal outfit Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT), fielded 51 candidates. IPFT contested in the remaining nine seats.