by NEWSNER , 2021-03-04 15:16:39
An influential regional party in Assam, the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), which is an ally of the BJP within the outgoing government with three ministers, last week announced a departure from the alliance to hitch the Congress-led ‘Grand Alliance’ against the saffron party.
The move is alleged to be an enormous boost for Congress because many believe the party can swing votes in favour of the alliance within the Bodoland Territorial Region, which is governed by the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and roughly translates into around 15 Assembly seats.
BPF and Its Significance:
Bodos are the single-largest tribal community in Assam and constitute over 5-6 per cent of the entire state population. The demand for a separate Bodo state has been there since 1967-68.
The BPF’s roots dwell in the Bodoland region’s long history of insurgency demanding a separate state. Three peace and development accords are signed till now among the Centre, state and therefore the Bodo outfits — in 1993, 2003 and therefore the last one in January 2020.
The 2003 accord led to the formation of the BTC and since then, elections are held in 2005, 2010, and 2015. BTC is an autonomous, self-governing body under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. In these Council polls, the BPF — earlier called the Bodo People’s Progressive Front and its members comprising an outsized section of surrendered militants of the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) who gave up arms following the 2003 accord — swept to power. The BPF is led by the influential Bodo leader Hagrama Mohilary, a former BLT chief who surrendered in 2003.
In 2006 and 2011, the BPF was a part of the Congress-led government in Assam, after which it parted ways during the 2014 elections. within the 2016 Assam polls, the BPF won 12 seats out of the 13 it contested and allied with the BJP to make the government.
BPF general secretary Prabin Boro told The Indian Express last week, “We will contest and win the 12 seats we've. additionally thereto, we'll see where else to contest.”
What is the present political landscape during this election in Assam?
In the 2016 elections to the 126-member Assam Assembly, the winning alliance comprised the BJP (60), the BPF (12 seats) and therefore the AGP (14 seats). This year, the BJP is going to be continuing its alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) but has choppy with its other ally, the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) — and instead, has gone with the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) within the Bodoland region.
On the opposite hand, the Congress and therefore the AIUDF, alongside three Left parties and a regional party, have announced a grand alliance against the BJP. Badruddin Ajmal, the MP and perfume baron lead the AIUDF, a celebration that enjoys an outsized support base within the state’s Bengali-origin Muslim community.
In 2019, the BJP had faced opposition in Assam over the CAA, with influential groups arguing that the Act was detrimental to the interests of the indigenous people of Assam. the 2 new regional parties — Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and therefore the Raijor Dal — owe their genesis to the huge anti-CAA protests that led to a minimum of five persons being gunned down by security forces in clashes. the 2 parties will contest the approaching elections together against the BJP.
What led to the rift between the BPF and therefore the BJP?
The latest elections to the BTC were held in December last year. Out of the 40 elected seats in BTC, UPPL won 12, BJP nine, GSP one, Congress one and BPF 17 seats.
But the BJP didn't unite the BPF to rule the BTC, but joined hands with the UPPL and GSP, thereby clearly indicating a rupture within the alliance within the state elections.
There are multiple speculative theories on why the BJP chose to part ways with Mohilary’s party. Senior BJP leaders have earlier told The Indian Express that it had been not proud of the way the BPF was administering the BTC and Mohilary wasn't being supportive politically.
During the campaign for the BTC elections, Assam’s influential BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma had vehemently criticised Mohilary, who responded by saying the polls were a contest between “Himanta Biswa Sarma and myself”. Mohilary has also made a media statement saying that when he had said Sarbananda Sonowal should become subsequent CM of Assam, and Sarma took offence thereto.
On Sunday, the BJP said during a statement that the party knew of a secret understanding between the BPF and therefore the Congress-AIUDF from much before and the official announcement has only confirmed their doubt.
“Just just like the Congress has proven itself to be anti-indigenous people of Assam by allying with the AIUDF, similarly, the BPF has besmirched the history of Bodo people’s struggle by joining the grand alliance,” the BJP statement said.
The break within the BJP’s alliance with the BPF was marked by the resignation of BPF’s popular face and Rajya Sabha MP Biswajit Daimary, who soon joined the BJP.
Rhituporna Konwar, an Assam Congress spokesperson, told The Indian Express, “The BPF didn’t get the respect it deserves with the BJP. If you analyse, you'll see that the BJP has this policy of destroying small regional parties after allying with them. that they had a post-poll alliance with the BPF and yet kicked them out during the BTC elections.”
The BTC elections were preceded by the Centre’s signing of the accord with Bodo groups in January last year. The UPPL is led by Promod Boro, a former president of All Bodo Students’ Union and was one of the signatories of the accord.
After the results, a disgruntled Mohilary approached the Gauhati supreme court, alleging violation of constitutional provisions. The supreme court ordered a floor test for the ruling alliance of the BJP-UPPL-GSP to prove their strength —which they did.
What are often the political effect of the BPF joining the Grand Alliance?
The BJP has disregarded the likelihood of any threat to its political prospects thanks to the new alliance. In Sunday’s statement, the party said that folks know alright that the key to the event of Bodoland lies within the BJP’s ideology of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas’ and not with “the Congress, which looted Assam for 15 years; the AIUDF, which is that the protector of Bangladeshis; and Bodoland’s hero of corruption, Hagrama”. But the Congress considers the event an attempt within the arm.
“The BPF is our old flame. They hold an outsized influence within the BTR region. Even by conservative estimates, they're going to win 6-7 seats then be a real clincher in 18 more seats where there are a substantial number of Bodo voters. The BPF joining our grand alliance is extremely excellent news for us,” Congress spokesperson Konwar said.
Ranjeet Dass, the state BJP president, told The Indian Express that the BPF joining the Congress-led alliance isn't a drag for them. “They are eyeing votes of the Miya community (Bengali-origin Muslim community) and hence have gone into the alliance. they're hoping they're going to win one or two seats with the Miya community votes. We anyway don't want those votes, and hence we don’t care. The BJP and therefore the UPPL are together going strong within the Bodoland region,” Dass said.