New Delhi: Assembly elections in Meghalaya have thrown up a hung verdict on Saturday, making post-poll alliances crucial to government formation in the northeastern state.

Chief minister Mukul Sangma’s Congress party won in 21 of the 59 seats that went to poll earlier this week, while the Conrad Sangma-led National People’s Party (NPP) bagged 19, according to the Election Commission of India. Counting for the state’s assembly elections took place on Saturday along with Nagaland and Tripura.

The Congress party has sent its top leaders, including Ahmed Patel and Kamal Nath, to Shillong to hold discussions with regional parties to form an alliance. Independents, who have won in three seats, will also play a key role.

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Other regional parties in the fray include an alliance of former chief minister Donkupar Roy’s United Democratic Party (UDP), Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) and Garo National Council (GNC) as well as People’s Democratic Front (PDF). While the regional alliance has won eight seats, PDF has triumphed in four. Another regional party, Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement has won one seat.

That almost all the regional parties had contested the elections on an anti-Congress plank may make it difficult for the party to stitch up a coalition to reach the halfway mark of 30.

NPP, which won two seats short of the Congress’s tally, would also attempt to seek support from regional parties in a bid to form a government. No regional party has formed a government on its own with the exception of the All Party Hill Leaders Conference (APHLC) in 1972, when the first assembly elections were held.

Also Read: Meghalaya election results LIVE updates

Although NPP had ruled out any pre-poll understanding in Meghalaya, it has helped the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form a government in Manipur. BJP has won two seats in Meghalaya.

If the Congress fails to form a government in Meghalaya, it will be in power in just the one northeast state of Mizoram. The party has ceded political clout in the region to the BJP, which registered a historic win in Tripura on Saturday.