Four districts in Assam’s Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) are all set to go to polls on April 4. These districts are Baksa, Chirang, Kokrajhar and Udalgiri. Elections will be held for 40 seats in the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) from 8 A.M to 4 P.M on April 4. Repoll if required will be conducted on April 6, and counting will take place on April 8.
The Assam State Election Commission issued a notification to this effect on April 11. The notification may be viewed here:
March 18 is the last date for filing nominations and both, the Congress and BJP gearing up for a pitched electoral battle in the region, even as local parties like the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), Gana Suraksha Manch (GSM) and United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL), remain poised to play kingmakers. The Congress has released it list of candidates for 13 out of the 40 constituencies. BJP meanwhile plans to contest all 40 seats.
In fact, just a few days before the notification, the BJP had announced its decision to go solo, ditching traditional allies like the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF). This also makes one wonder if they would come together for the assembly polls next year. But it appears that perhaps the BJP has not cut ties with the BPF completely. In fact, when BPF president Hagrama Mohilary filed his nomination papers on Monday, he told reporters that the BPF has the support of both, the BJP as well as the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), and is therefore going to with 25-30 seats in the BTC. Mohilary filed nomination from from the Debargaon ST constituency, while his party members Doneswar Goyary filed nomination for Baokhungri ST constituency, Derhasat Basumatary for Salakati ST constituency and Rajib Brahma for Banargaon ST constituency.
Perhaps the BJP is using these polls to test their own strength in the region. Or this may be a carefully calibrated strategy to dent the votes of Naba Sarania’s Gana Suraksha Manch (GSM). Sarania, who is the two-time MP from the Kokrajhar constituency, told The Telegraph, “The BJP is aiming to divide the non-Bodo voters in the constituencies where the GSM candidates’ potential of winning is quite high. But they must understand that the non-Bodo voters neither trust the BJP nor the BPF and the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL).”
The UPPL has a new leader in Pramod Boro who is banking on the anti-incumbency factor. After filing his nomination papers on Monday at Tamulpur, Boro told The Sentinel, “UPPL will give a corruption-free BTC to the common people where each and every people will be able to enjoy their constitutional rights. People have full faith in UPPL and people of BTC will cast their valuable votes in favour of UPPL.”
It is noteworthy that this election comes after the signing of the historic Bodo accord on January 27. As per the terms of the agreement over 1500 armed cadres will shun violence, surrender weapons and become a part of a rehabilitation scheme. The center has sanctioned a special package of Rs 1500 crores for developing Bodo areas.
Here’s a quick look at some facts and figures: BTC has a total of 46 seats. While 40 council members are elected, 6 are nominated. Voting will take place across 3, 077 polling stations, out of which 521 have been identified as very sensitive, and 1,000 others have been dubbed sensitive. 15,000 personnel will be deputed at the booths.