Seventeen years have passed since the formation of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) ushering hopes for the people living in the four districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri which fall under it.
The much-awaited dates for the council elections were announced recently. The elections will be held in two- phases on December 7 and 10. While in the first phase, elections would be held in constituencies in Udalguri and Baksa districts on December 7, voting will take place in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts in the second phase on December 10, Re-poll, if required would be held on December 11.
The date of counting the votes for both the phases is December 12, counting would begin from 8 AM.
The elections were previously scheduled for April 14, 2020. But it had to be postponed due to the global pandemic, followed by the nationwide lockdown. The council is currently under the rule of the Governor of Assam, Jagdish Mukhi.
Ever since the formation, militant turned politician Hagrama Mohilary led Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) has been ruling in BTC. But with changing political equations and BPF’s ally in Dispur-the BJP deciding to contest the ensuing BTC polls, this time the BTC polls have become more attractive. Dispur has already asked the Election Commission to hold the polls before December 15.
Though BPF has been the most prominent political party in the region, the emergence of United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) under the leadership of former All Bodo Students’ Union president Promod Boro who is also the signatory of the recent peace accord is considered to be vital.
What came as a surprise for many that suddenly BPF’s own ally BJP in Dispur has upped its ante against its ally party. BJP which has fielded 27 candidates in the House of 40 has targeted the BPF and accused them as traitors. BJP also declared that it won’t continue its alliance with BPF in the state polls of 2021. BJP which currently has a strength of a mere one in BTC believes that it would head the next council.
With both UPPL and BPF targeting the tribal community and BJP trying to make a dent in the council, political pundits assume a fractured mandate in the ensuing BTC polls.
Meantime, Assam Police along with Army and other security forces under the Unified Command have also launched a massive operation against the availability of illegal arms in the BTC fearing the use of them by political goons.
Since May 25, the police have seized over 80 firearms, 1628 ammunition, 197 grenades, three IEDs, 26 detonators, two kilograms of explosives and at least 16 rocket-propelled grenades. These recoveries included AK56 rifles, AK47 rifles, 7.65mm pistols, 8mm pistols, M4 rifles, MQ81 rifles and HK rifles.
Though the signing of the peace accord bringing all Bodo separatist outfits into peace talks and disbanding their outfits, the availability of illegal firearms in the region continues to be a worrying fact. The election commission will have a tough role to play in conducting a free and fair BTC election under the situation.