Stage set for ‘battle of ballots’ | 14 to fight for 2 LS seats, 133 for 50 Assembly seats

By A O News Service

ITANAGAR, Mar 31: With the process of withdrawal of nomination papers completed on Saturday and 10 BJP nominees getting elected unopposed, the stage is set for April 19 ‘battle of ballot’ to elect 50 lawmakers of 60-member Legislative Assembly besides two Lok Sabha members.

Total 133 candidates – BJP (50), INC (19), NCP (14), NPP (20), PPA (11), ABP (4), LJSP (1) and independents (14) – are left in the fray, according to joint chief electoral officer Liken Koyu.

Few assembly constituencies would witness tough fight, like in Doimukh, sitting BJP MLA Tana Hali Tara would face Nabam Vivek (PPA) and Nabam Tado (Congress).

Seats of straight contests: Liromoba -Nyamar Karbak (BJP) and Pesi Jilen (NPP); Aalo West – Topin Ete (BJP) and Nyamo Ete (NPP), Aalo East – Adv. Kento Jini(BJP) and Jarkar Gamlin (PPA) ands  Yachuli – sitting Minister Taba Tedir (BJP) and Tako Tatung (NCP, Ajit Pawar).

However, 14 candidates would contest for two Lok Sabha seats – 8 for Arunachal West seat and 6 for   Arunachal East seat.

There are eight contestants in Arunachal West parliamentary constituency, including Union Earth Sciences and Food Processing Minister Kiren Rijiju. The other candidates are former chief minister-cum-APCC president Nabam Tuki, new comer Toko Sheetal (Gana Suraksha Party) and five independents – Bimpak Siga,  Leki Norbu, Ruhi Tagung. Tania June ands Techi Rana.

Total  six candidates are trying their luck from Arunachal East seat including sitting MP Tapir Gao, Bosiram Siram (Congress), Bandey Mili (Arunachal Democratic Party) and three independents.

Meanwhile, foolproof security arrangements have been made with deployment of  55 companies of central paramilitary forces in addition to  state police forces to ensure free and fair elections.

2024 will be NDA poll in NE, not BJP

A Guwahati report adds: The Lok Sabha election in the NE will be an NDA election this time, with BJP and other alliance partners approaching the seat arrangements strategically.

The NE has total 25 seats, with 14 seats in Assam. Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh have two seats each, while Nagaland, Mizoram and Sikkim have one seat each.

The BJP rules Assam, Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal and is a component of ruling coalitions in Nagaland and Meghalaya.

Barring Assam, the BJP and its allies had no seat-sharing arrangement in 2019 elections, yet the NDA bagged 19 of total 25 seats. This time, however, they are contesting as team NDA.

Mizoram and Sikkim are the aberrations. Despite being allies, BJP and Mizo National Front are contesting separately in Mizoram. Similarly, BJP is pitted against Sikkim Krantikari Morcha in Sikkim.

The BJP has entered into seat-sharing arrangements with NPP, Naga People’s Front (NPF) and Nationalist Democratic Progressive Front (NDPP) and continued its understanding with Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) in Assam.

The stakes are high for BJP in Assam. It is contesting 11 seats and has allowed AGP and UPPL to contest from two and one seats respectively.

When the NPP headed by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma decided to not contest two seats in Arunachal but support the BJP, the latter returned the favour by opting out of the poll race in Meghalaya. The BJP is supporting NPP in the state.

The BJP is also not contesting the Outer Manipur seat in Manipur and decided to support the NPF. Similarly, it stayed away from Nagaland where the NDPP is contesting the lone seat.

The bonhomie among the NDA constituents is conspicuous. The BJP’s face in the NE and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma hailed the NPP when it decided to support the BJP in Arunachal.

“This unparalleled commitment among our partners will ensure the NDA secures over 400 seats,” Sarma had said.

The BJP’s contest in the NE will be mostly with the Congress, except for some seats where it has other opposition parties as rivals.

Fifteen seats are going to election in the first phase on April 19 – five in Assam, two each in Manipur, Meghalaya and Arunachal and one seat each in Nagaland, Sikkim, Mizoram and Tripura.

The opposition INDIA bloc could manage to field consensus candidates only in Manipur and Tripura. The Congress is contesting both Inner Manipur and Outer Manipur seats and one seat in Tripura (Tripura West). The CPI (M) is contesting in Tripura East.

The Congress, which ruled the NE for most part but got reduced to a shadow of its past self, is hoping to retain the two seats of Nagaon in Assam and Shillong in Meghalaya. The party is also optimistic about Jorhat and Dhubri (both Assam) and Inner Manipur seats.

Manipur will go to elections in the backdrop of ethnic violence between Meiteis and Kukis. There is simmering anger against the BJP which the Congress is hoping to encash on Meitei-majority Inner Manipur seat. The NPF is expected to retain the Outer Manipur seat which is reserved for tribals. The Kukis have abstained from contesting.

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