Will the Political Honeymoon Between BJP and BPF Last Till Assembly Elections?
Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the political temperature in Bodoland is soaring ahead of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) elections and the biggest question doing the rounds is what will be the fate of the political honeymoon between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Bodo Peoples’ Front (BPF) which has been heading the council since its formation in 2003.
Though the election dates have not yet been announced there are indications that the polls might take place sometime between September and October after it was cancelled in April due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The outcome of the poll of the 46-member council in the four BTAD districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri, is likely to throw up new political equations ahead of the state assembly elections in 2021.
The ruling BJP has decided to go all alone in the BTC polls though at the state level Bodo Peoples’ Front (BPF) is a partner in the Sarbananda Sonowal led coalition government.
The relations between the two partners in recent times are not all that rosy. The postponement of elections and the imposition of Governor’s Rule on the expiry of the council’s term in April this year has not gone down too well with the Hangrama led BPF.
Time and again BPF leaders have alleged about the Governor’s interference in Bodo Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) which is under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution which vests power in the BTC to govern the administration in BTAD.
BPF which has ruled the BTAD areas since its formation is also facing tough opposition on its home turf. The party led by former president of the influential All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU), Promod Boro of United Peoples’ Front Liberal (UPPL), is posing a serious threat to the Hangrama camp which held the office for three terms.
The elections are being held after the signing of the new Bodo Accord in which the ABSU was one of the signatories apart from the four factions of the now disbanded insurgent outfit, National Democratic Front of Bodoland, besides the United Bodo Peoples’ Organization. On the other hand, Congress-AIUDF is also in the hunt to corner the maximum share of votes in the non-Bodo areas of the region. BJP has announced that it will go solo in the elections and will put up candidates in all the 40 seats.
BJP is also cosying up to Promod Boro who hogged all the limelight during the signing of the final Bodo Accord with the Centre. The first one, signed with the ABSU in 1993, led to the creation of a Bodoland Autonomous Council with limited political powers. A decade later, the second accord was signed with the militant outfit Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), leading to formation of a Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) with four districts of Assam — Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri — together called BTAD.
Boro has openly admitted that he is open to alliance with the saffron brigade in the post poll scenario if there is a hung verdict.
Clearly, it is an indication that BJP is looking at alternatives in Bodoland ahead of the assembly polls next year. The party is using BTC elections as a testing ground. BPF had won 12 seats in last assembly elections.
The principal opposition Congress is playing a waiting game. The estranged relationship between BJP and BPF is working to its advantage for the time being but it could soon change if UPPL comes good in the BTC elections.
Apart from political equations, Centre doles to the council in the past decade have also been the talking point. While Kokrajhar, the headquarter of BTAD, witnessed rapid development, the remaining three districts were left to fend for themselves due to linguistic, ethnic and religious fault lines in the region.
However, the final accord promises a Rs 1,500-crore economic package, aimed at boosting the overall socio-economic upliftment of the Bodos in Assam.
The Bodos are the third-largest linguistic community in the state after the Assamese and the Bengalis. There are 14.16 lakh Bodo speakers out of the 3.1 crore population in Assam, according to the 2011 Census.
- Assam News
- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
- Bodo Peoples’ Front (BPF)
- Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC)
- Assam Assembly Election
- Assam election 2021
- Election in Assam