By Debananda Medak
GUWAHATI: Did Assam’s Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tell a ‘big lie’ to the entire non-Bodo communities residing in Bodoland Territorial Council? Gana Suraksha Party (GSP) adviser Brojen Mahanta insisted that Minister Sarma did tell a ‘big lie’ to the entire non-Bodo communities by announcing the renaming of the BTC as Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) without addressing the issues of the non-Bodos.
Mahanta said, “We will move the Gauhati High Court to challenge the Minister’s announcement shortly.”
According to Mahanta, various non-Bodo organisations of BTC sat with Minister Sarma in a meeting organised at the Janata Bhawan here to address the issues to be faced by the non-Bodos right after the signing of the BTR Accord.
Mahanta said, “During the meeting, we urged the Finance Minister not to implement the BTR Accord until a new land policy is drafted categorically for the BTAD to ensure land rights for the non-Bodos. Since the Accord has curtailed the political rights of the non-Bodos, we also urged Minister Sarma to review it in order to avoid adverse effects. As a result, he assured us to arrange a tripartite meeting between the Centre, state government and representative of the non-Bodo organisations in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. However, none of the promise given by the Minister was materialised. Rather Sarma has hastily announced the renaming of the BTC without consulting the non-Bodo organisations.”
The adviser asserted that the Finance Minister’s announcement will benefit the ruling BJP and Pramod Boro-led United Peoples’ Party Liberal (UPPL) in attracting voters in the ensuing BTC polls. “The BJP-UPPL alliance has taken the announcement of BTR as an advantage right before the Council polls,” Mahanta said.
On September 25, Assam’s Finance Minister Sarma made public of the Governor’s approval to the renaming of the BTC as BTR. Sarma also announced that in view of the COVID-19 pandemic BTC election cannot be conducted until November next.
Criticising the Minister’s announcement, Mahanta added, “Even the Supreme Court of India recently ruled that election cannot be stopped due to Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, the Assam government has made the announcement at a time when scheduled is declared for the Bihar assembly polls. Altogether, the state government’s intention is to delay the BTC polls to navigate the mandate in favour of the ruling BJP and its ally – UPPL.”