BASUGAON: The much-awaited Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) elections concluded on Thursday with around 77 percent of voter turnout in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts.
The first phase of the polls was held on December 7 in Udalguri and Baksa districts in which also some 76 percent voting was recorded. However, the official figures were yet to be shared by the state election commission.
In 2015 BTC polls also, 78.18 percent voters’ turnout was recorded.
Though there were many apprehensions about possible violence ahead and also during the polls, the overall election passed peacefully except a few incidents of violence.
“On Thursday, the Chirang district police had to resort to blank firing when two groups belonging to the political parties of United People’s Party (Liberal) (UPPL) and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) involved in a clash at Duttapur area,” police said. No casualty was registered in the incident.
A few other incidents of group clashes were also witnessed. However, police said everything was controlled timely. Earlier, a day ahead of the final phase of the polls on Wednesday, stones were pelted at UPPL chief Promod Boro’s vehicle by unknown miscreants at Naigaon area of Kokrajhar.
UPPL though had alleged BPF for the attack, for BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary, the incidents of violence were orchestrated by BJP. Both BPF and BJP though are in alliance in state government, the latter decided to ‘ditch’ its partner in BTC polls and contested against it.
“I have information that the attack on Boro and other incidents were done under minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s instructions. Sarma wanted to destroy peace in BTC but he failed miserably. All his dreams will be shattered on the result day when BPF will win over 30 seats in the BTC and form the government again,” Mohilary claimed.
BTC has a House of 40 seats. In the 2015 BTC elections, BPF won 20 seats and came to power. The BJP won one.
The BTC election though is a local body election; it grabbed national attention this time with the partner parties turning rivals. BJP during its poll campaigns said that it will not continue its partnership with BPF even in Dispur after the conclusion of the first term. It said in 2021 state polls, BJP and BPF will not be allies.
“Let the results are out, I will then talk about the situation,” Mohilary reacted on questions of future strategies of BPF.
This BTC election was also considered as a ‘semi-final’ for state’s prime political parties of BJP, Congress and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) ahead of the state polls slated next year.
The polls have marked the beginning of new political alliances and hostilities before the state elections in 2021. While the BJP has broken up with BPF and tested its might in the BTC region, the Congress and AIUDF also tested its newly formed alliance. Both Congress and AIUDF were advocating of a grand alliance of anti-BJP parties ahead of 2021 polls.
This year’s BTC polls were also considered vital as it followed the signing of the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) agreement with all factions of Bodo insurgent groups laying down their arms. The accord promised more power and infrastructural growth in the region.
The BTC is an autonomous, self-governing body under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. There have been two Bodo accords earlier—the second led to BTC’s formation in 2003.