India's northeast springs divided verdict (Roundup)

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 28, 2013 16:30 hrs

Agartala/Shillong/Kohima, Feb 28 (IANS) Election results in India's northeast Thursday brought back the Congress, the Nagaland People's Front (NPF) and the Marxists to power in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura.

The divided verdict was, however, bad news for the Congress, which was left limping in Tripura and routed in Nagaland.

Even as newly elected Congress legislators prepared to meet in Shillong Friday to elect a new Meghalaya chief minister, party leaders voiced dismay over the outcomes in Nagaland and Tripura.

In Tripura, the ruling Left Front swept 50 of the total 60 seats, leaving the Congress, which had hoped to somehow oust the Marxists, bruised with just 10 seats -- its 2008 tally.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist bagged 49 seats while the Communist Party of India won one seat.

It was the best result for the Left since 1978, when it won a record 56 seats. It increased its 2008 tally by one seat.

"This is a verdict in favour of development, peace and stability besides good governance," a beaming Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, 64, told IANS.

Sarkar has ruled Tripura for the past 15 years and is set to assume office yet again.

While the Congress managed to retain its 2008 tally of 10 seats, its ally the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura drew blank. It had won one seat five years ago.

The ruling NPF achieved its third electoral victory in Nagaland, winning 38 of the 60 seats.

Two other seats went to its allies - the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal-United - in the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government.

The Congress, which had harped on corruption in the state government, fared badly. It won only eight seats, a steep fall from the 23 it had in the outgoing assembly.

"People have voted us to power once again as they are convinced that the DAN government has brought peace and development to the state. I thank people of Nagaland for reposing their faith in our government," NPF general secretary Kru Zakie told IANS.

Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio was, however, not available for comments.

Senior Congress leader and former chief minister S.C. Jamir attributed his party's debacle to "money power" of the NPF.

But the Congress emerged as the single largest party in Meghalaya by winning 29 seats in the 60-member assembly. Chief Minister Mukul Sangma was set to retain office for a second term, party sources said.

"The people have responded to us for good governance and development," a jubilant Sangma, 47, told IANS from Tura, district headquarters of West Garo Hills.

Sangma retained his Ampati constituency for the fifth successive term, defeating his nearest National People's Party (NPP) rival by more than 9,000 votes.

His wife Dikkachi D. Shira and brother Zenith M. Sangma were victorious from Mahendraganj and Rangsakona constituency.

The Congress won four more seats than in 2008.

"I am glad that the people of Meghalaya reposed faith in the Congress," Sangma said.

The battle proved fatal for former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma's NPP as only two of its 32 candidates won.

The Hill State People's Democratic Party (HSPDP), the oldest regional party in Meghalaya, increased its tally from two to four.

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