The just-concluded election to the third Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) has thrown up several major surprises, the most significant being the entry of Badruddin Ajmal’s All-India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) into the autonomous council by winning four seats. The BTC assembly has 46 members, of which 40 are elected, while six are later nominated from communities that remain unrepresented.
“It is indeed a very significant development that our party has won four seats in the BTC. And, please note, two of the four are Bodo tribals, one of whom again is a Christian,” said AIUDF general secretary Aminul Islam. In contrast, the BJP could win only only one seat while the Congress and Asom Gana Parishad could not even open their accounts. The first election to the BTC was held in 2005 following signing of the Bodo Accord in 2003.
The AIUDF’s entry into the BTC is even more significant in that over two lakh migrant Bengal-speaking Muslims — the main support-base of the AIUDF — were rendered homeless in the massive violence that had broken out in Kokrajhar, Chirang and Baksa districts in July 2012. Hagrama Mohilary, whose Bodo People’s Front (BPF) is heading towards forming the council for the third consecutive term, had then blamed migrant Muslims for the violence.
For AIUDF supremo and Lok Sabha member Badruddin Ajmal, the BTC results is his party’s victory over Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s Congress. “Nine years ago Tarun Gogoi had showed his thumb at me and asked: Who is Badruddin? Today, I show both thumbs and ask: Who is Tarun Gogoi?” Ajmal said on Monday.
The AIUDF, which Ajmal formed in the backdrop of the Supreme Court in 2005 scrapping the controversial Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983, is generally seen as a party that stands for safeguarding the interest of people of East Bengal/Bangladesh origin. “The most important message of the BTC election result is that no party will be able to form the government in Assam in 2016 by leaving aside the AIUDF,” Islam said. The AIUDF, which had won 10 MLAs in the 126-member Assam Assembly in 2006 has 18 MLAs in the current House.
While 30 of the 40 BTC seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes, the AIUDF put up candidates in only eight seats, with Islam describing it as an “experiment” that to test the waters. “We put up candidates in eight seats just as an experiment. And, believe me, we not only directly pushed the BPF into the second spot in three of the seats we won, but also got the better of the People’s Committee for Democratic Rights,” Islam said.