Saffron party hopes to take control of BTR after ruling two other tribal councils

Saffron party hopes to take control of BTR after ruling two other tribal councils

Addressing a series of rallies in Bodoland in Assam, State Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and State BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Das have lashed out at the party’s ally in Assam, Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), for its “reign of terror” and “favouritism” for over 16 years.

The BPF is one of two regional parties that rule Assam in alliance with the BJP. But the upcoming elections to the 40-seat Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) has made the BJP and BPF drift apart to set the tone for the Assembly elections by May 2021.

The BTR, covering four districts, was born in February 2003 as the Bodoland Territorial Council under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. It was renamed BTR on September 28 according to the provisions of the Bodo Peace Accord signed on January 27 this year.

“There have been allegations of large-scale misappropriation of funds during the rule of BPF under Hagrama Mohilary. The Bodoland council areas need change to end favouritism, ensure safety and security of the people and all-round development,” Dr. Sarma said at rallies in Udaliguri district.

He also said the BJP was committed to ensuring equal rights for all communities living in areas under BTR. The council has had a history of conflicts between the Bodo community and non-Bodos, who together are a majority. “We have a BJP-led government in Delhi and in Dispur (administrative capital of Assam). What BTR needs is a BJP-led council for growth,” Mr. Das said in Chirang district.

The BJP would, for the first time, be contesting most of the seats in the BTR polls to be held by December 15. It is the third largest — and the most politically crucial — tribal council after Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao, both of which are ruled by the BJP.

The BJP would be pitted against the BFP as well as the latter’s long-time rival United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL), often seen as the BJP’s “B-team”.

The UPPL has sought adequate security for the BTR polls as the council has been “prone to violence”. Ensuring foolproof security was a must for people to come out and vote without fear, UPPL president Pramod Boro said besides slamming the BPF for “misrule and corruption”. He was a signatory to the January 27 peace accord.

The BTR election was to have been held on April 4 but was deferred to the COVID-19 lockdown. The council areas were brought under the Assam Governor’s rule when its term ended on April 27.