The problem with Tripura exit poll predictions

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is confident of winning majority in Left's stronghold Tripura and strengthen its footprint in other two northeastern states - Nagaland and Meghalaya - where results for Assembly elections will be announced on Saturday. Of the three states, hung Assemblies have been predicted in Nagaland and Meghalaya.

Four prominent parties are fighting the poll battle in Tripura - Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM), Indian National Congress (INC), Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and All India Trinamool Congress (AITC).

Balloting in the Charilam (reserved for the tribals) has been deferred to March 12 after the death of a CPI-M candidate.

Despite large-scale snags in VVPATs (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails) and EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines), over 92 per cent (excluding 50,770 postal ballots) of Tripura's 2,536,589 voters cast their votes in February 18 peaceful elections in 59 of the 60 Assembly seats, setting a new record in the electoral history of India.

The Congress may want to look away now: According to C-Voter, its vote share will be 19.7 per cent, and 4 seats. Some of the key contestants are chief minister TR Zeliang (NPF), former CM KL Chishi (BJP), retired chief secretary Alemtemshi Jamir (NDPP).

The BJP emerged a major challenger to Tripura's ruling Left Front alliance in the Assembly poll process.

In Nagaland, 349 tables in 17 centres across the state would be set up for counting on Sunday, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Abhijit Sinha, said. If the exit polls are right, and two of them gave the State to the BJP while one had the BJP and CPI-M in a dead heat, the saffron party has pulled off in three years of sustained organisation-building and agitprop what the Congress had been unable and/or unwilling to do in 25. A total of 372 candidates contested the Meghalaya assembly elections. While the Congress has been ruling Meghalaya for 10 years.

To the advantage of the Congress it has fielded candidates in all the constituencies, followed by the NPP in 52 constituencies, the BJP in 47 and the UDP in 35. In Nagaland, while NPF contested in 58 seats, NDPP in 40 seats and debutant National People's Party (NPP) in 25 seats.

Kokborok is the lingua franca of most indigenous communities of Tripura.

However, the exit poll by CVoter stated that the Left front will win 26-34 seats with over 44 percent vote share, and the BJP-IPFT alliance will win 24-32 seats with over 42 percent vote share.

The BJP had given a call for Chalo Paltai ( let's change) at the hustings in an all-out bid to wrest the state from Manik Sarkar whose charisma as a simple and humble chief minister helped the Left return to power in successive elections. The Congress in Nagaland is likely to get 0-2 seats with a vote share of 4.4 per cent and others are likely to get 5-7 seats with a vote share of 5-6 per cent.

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