The Congress emerged as the largest party in the Meghalaya elections, the results of which were declared on Saturday. Saving Meghalaya was crucial for the Congress as it is one of its two remaining bases in North East India.

The party won 21 seats, the National People’s Party won 19, the United Democratic Party won six, the People’s Democratic Front got four, and the Bharatiya Janata Party won only two, according to the Election Commission.

The BJP had hoped to win in Meghalaya after its victories in Assam and Manipur, but it has struggled to shed its anti-Christian image in many parts of the state, particularly in the Garo Hills.

9.40 pm: Himanta Biswa Sarma says BJP will function in Meghalaya by playing the “role of a facilitator” with regional parties. “The BJP will not play a direct role because it does not have the numbers,” he says. “I believe parties will come together to form a non-Congress government.”

6.41 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi says, “The North East has today come forward to lead India on the path to development.” He is addressing party workers at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi.

6.35 pm: Congress wins 21 seats, the National People’s Party bags 19 and the BJP, only two, according to the Election Commission.

6.15 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi sends three key strategists – Ahmed Patel, Mukul Wasnik and Ghulam Nabi Azad – to Meghalaya to head the party’s process to form the government in Meghalaya, reports The Shillong Times.

5.27 pm: Congress wins 21 seats, the National People’s Party bags 18 and the BJP, only two. The Election Commission has to declare the result for only one constituency, where the NPF leads.

5.50 pm: ANI reports a win in 21 seats for the Congress, 19 for the National People’s Party, two for the BJP, six for the United Democratic Party and 11 for independent candidates and other regional parties.

5.15 pm: Congress wins 20 seats, the National People’s Party bags 18 and the BJP, only two, according to the Election Commission.

4.50 pm: Results for only eight of the 59 seats have yet to be declared. Congress wins 19, and the NPP, 15.

4.45 pm: Congress leader Ahmed Patel says the party is confident of forming the government, News18 reports. “We are not going to get involved in horse-trading, but I cannot say anything about BJP,” he says.

4.40 pm: NPP’s Thomas Sangma rules out forming government with the Congress, News18 reports. “No chance of merging with the Congress. Parties like the UDP, HSPDP and PDF have approached us and have lent their support. I am sure the BJP will also come and support us to oust the Congress from Meghalaya.”

4.31 pm: Results for 43 of the 59 seats are declared. The Congress wins 16 seats and is ahead in 5. NPP wins 11 seats and is leading in 8. The UDF has won 6 seats. HSPDP and the BJP win two seats each.

4.26 pm: “In Meghalaya, National Democratic Alliance allies have achieved great success and we see a mandate for change,” Amit Shah says in Delhi, reports NDTV. “These results show people of northeast want progress, peace and deliverance from violence.”

4.22 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi “expresses gratitude” to the people of Meghalaya. “The welfare of Meghalaya is of utmost importance for us.”

4.18 pm: Congress suffers a major setback in the Jaintia Hills, where a National Green Tribunal ban on coal mining has severely hit livelihoods. The people of the region blame the Congress for not doing enough to fight the ban and allow mining to resume in the state.

4.08 pm: Results for 23 of 59 seats are yet to be declared.

4.06 pm: Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma says the election results were not as expected, according to The Hindu.

3.52 pm: The National People Party now has eight seats, and is leading in 11. The Congress wins 13 and is leading in eight.

3.20 pm: What vote shares look like right now: Congress has 28.7%, the National People’s Party has 20.3%, up from 2013’s 8.8%, the BJP got a vote share of 9.9% – a massive jump from 2013, when it was just 1.27%.

3.15 pm: Results for 31 of the 59 seats declared. The Congress wins 12, the NPP and UDP win five each.

3.04 pm: NPP leader Conrad Sangma said his party will form the government in Meghalaya with the help of other parties, PTI reported. “We are hopeful that we will be able to form the government,” he told PTI. “People are fed up with the corrupt Congress government and are looking for change,” he told PTI.

2.55 pm: Results for 28 of the 59 seats declared so far. The Congress wins 11 and is leading in 10, the BJP wins two, the National People’s Party wins 5 and is leading in 14, United Democratic Party wins 4 and leading in two, according to the Election Commission.

2.01 pm: National People’s Party’s Agatha Sangma beats the BJP to win from the South Tura constituency by 1,437 votes. NPP’s James Sangma beats an independent candidate in Dadenggre by 2,753 votes. Agatha and James are NPP founder PA Sangma’s children.

1.55 pm: Congress wins nine seats and leads in 11, according to the Election Commission. The National People’s Party wins three seats and leads in 16.

Source: Election Commission

1.50 pm: Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma wins from both Ampati and Songsak constituencies. He won Ampati by 8,104 votes and Songsak by 1,830 votes.

1.36 pm: Congress is declared winner in eight seats and is leading in 12, the Election Commission said. The NPP is declared winner in three and is leading in 16.

1.20 pm: The Congress’ Mohendro Rapsang wins West Shillong by 1,984 votes, beating United Democratic Party working president and former Khasi Students’ Union leader Paul Lyngdoh.

1 pm: The Congress’ tally is now down to 21 seats, the Others have 17, NPP has 15 and the BJP, 6.

12.07 pm: The Congress tally has dipped again to 25, NDTV reports. The NPP has 12, Other parties, 14, and the BJP, 8.

11.57 am: Trends show Congress leading in 29 seats, two short of the halfway mark, NDTV reports. NPP and Others have 11 each, the BJP has eight.

11.53 am: Congress leader and Meghalaya’s Home Minster HDR Lyngdoh loses from the Sohiong constituency. HSPDP’s Samlin Malngiang wins the seat.

11.46 am: According to the Election Commission, these are the trends currently:

11.41 am: The United Democratic Party is declared winner in two seats, according to the Election Commission.

11.32 am: The Hill State People’s Democratic Party is declared winner in one seat, according to the Election Commission.

11.29 am: Chief Minister Mukul Sangma is declared winner in Ampati, he is leading in Songsak.

11.26 am: The Congress now has 25 seats, six short of the halfway mark. NPP has the lead in 14 seats, Others in 13 and the BJP in six, reports NDTV.

11.18 am: BJP minister Kiren Rijiju says the party is “confident of forming government in all three (Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura) states, reports ANI.

11 am: The Congress is leading in 23 seats now, reports NDTV. NPP’s Agatha Sangma and James Sangma have both lost their leads, according to the Election Commission.

10.32 am: NPP’s Agatha Sangma, a former MP, is leading in the South Tura constituency, reports News18. She is the daughter of former Meghalaya chief minister, the late PA Sangma. Her brother James Sangma, also from the NPP, is leading in his constituency Dadenggre.

10.20 am: The Congress tally has dipped by three seats. The ruling party now has 21 seats, NDTV reports. NPP has 15, the Others have 14, and the BJP has 6.

10.18 am: Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Ahmed Patel leave for Shillong, as the Congress takes a good lead in Meghalaya, reports say.

10.15 am: Trends show the Congress leading in 24 seats, NDTV reports. The NPP is still at 11, the Others have 15 and the BJP, four.

10.10 am: In Meghalaya, the Congress has a significant lead over the Bharatiya Janata Party so far, but it might not be enough for it to be the single largest party in the state. Unless the Congress wins a majority, it will have to win the game of alliances.

Here’s why: While the BJP has been constrained by the taint of Hindutva in this Christian-majority state, the fate of the next government could lie in the hands of smaller regional parties. The National People’s Party is leading. The party is part of the National Democratic Alliance at the Centre and is believed to be an unofficial ally of the BJP in the state. Among the other parties that have early leads is the United Democratic Party and Hill State People’s Democratic Party, which is a faction of the staunchly Khasi party and appears to be wary of the BJP. Weighing in the BJP’s favour is its status as the party in power in Delhi with the keys to the Central coffers.

9.53 am: The ruling Congress is leading in 22 seats, 9 short of the halfway mark, NDTV reports. The National People’s Party has 11, Others have 14, and BJP has 6 currently.

9.50 am: Congress’ Mukul Sangma, who contested from two seats this time – Ampathi and Songsak – is leading in both, according to the Election Commission.

9.36 am: The Congress is leading in 17 seats, NDTV reports. The halfway mark is 31 seats. Early trends show NPP has 10 seats, and Other parties have 11. The BJP has three.

9.32 am: In Mairang, UDP is currently leading, The Hindu reports. Both UDP and the NPP are part of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance, but neither party tied up with the BJP ahead of the polls.

9.25 am: Congress leader and current Chief Minister Mukul Sangma is leading in the Ampathi constituency, according to NDTV.

9.15 am: The Congress is maintaining its lead, with 15 seats, followed by the Other parties, including the UDP, at 11. The NPP has 10 seats, according to early trends, NDTV reports.

9.06 am: The Congress is ahead in 11 seats, NPP has eight, the BJP has three, while eight seats are with Other parties, NDTV reports.

9 am: Just as the exit polls predicted, the Congress and the NPP are fighting neck and neck. Both parties now have seven seats each, the BJP is at three, while Others have nine – the UDP is at seven, NDTV reports.

8.57 am: In Shillong, a large crowd has gathered at a public ground, where the results and trends are being screened live, ANI reported.

8.55 am: The NPP is now leading in six seats, the Congress in two, the BJP in two, and Others, which includes the UDP and the Hill State People’s Democratic Party, in eight seats, according to NDTV.

8.44 am: The BJP is now leading in one seat, the NPP in five, and the Congress in 4, according to NDTV. The United Democratic Party is leading in two and Hill State People’s Democratic Party in one seat, according to News18.

8.39 am: The Congress is leading in two seats, the National People’s Party in one seat, while two seats have been picked up by other candidates, according to NDTV.

8.27 am: Early trends show the Congress leading in one seat, according to NDTV.

8.10 am: Counting begins. Postal ballots will be counted first, The Hindu reported.

8 am: A total of 370 candidates contested the elections for 59 seats – 338 men and 32 women. Around 15,35,846 voters out of 18.09 lakh electorate exercised their franchise.

7.55 am: Security has been stepped up at counting centres, Shillong Superintendent of Police D Marak told ANI. Meghalaya Chief Electoral Officer FR Kharkongor said a three-tier security arrangement was in place at all 13 counting centres, NDTV reported.

7.37 am: Before counting begins, here is a look at the biggest electoral issues in the state, along with main contenders and a short recap of the politics.

7.34 am: In 2013, the Congress won 29 seats, independents won 13 and the United Democratic Party won 8. The National People’s Party won 2 seats, while the BJP won none.

7.25 am: Counting is set to begin in Meghalaya.