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Assam: BJP dumps its ally, picks new one to govern Bodoland council

The Bodoland People's Front (BPF), which has three ministers in the Sarbananda Sonowal-led coalition government in the state, has emerged as the single-largest party in the just concluded BTC polls, winning 17 seats in the 40-member body.

Written by Abhishek Saha | Guwahati | Updated: December 14, 2020 10:53:27 am
BJP dumps its coalition partner in Assam, picks up new one to rule an autonomous bodyAssam CM Sarbanada Sonowal announced that UPPL chief Pramod Boro will be the new Chief Executive Member in the BTC. (Express File Photo by Vignesh Krishnamoorthy)

THE BJP has allied with the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) and the Gana Suraksha Party (GSP) to form the ruling alliance in the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), the results of whose polls were declared on Sunday.

Promod Boro, a former president of All Bodo Students’ Union who leads the UPPL now, will become the next Chief Executive Member (CEM) of the BTC. “I hope that under the new CEM Promod Boro’s leadership, the BTC will work for the development of all communities through cooperation,” Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said.

BTC is an autonomous, self-governing body under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. There have been two Bodo accords earlier — the second led to BTC’s formation in 2003. In the 2015 BTC elections, the BPF won 20 seats and came to power, and the BJP won only one seat.

Elections to the 40-member BTC were held on December 7 and 10.

The UPPL won 12 seats, the BJP nine, the GSP one, and the Congress one. The BPF—which is the BJP’s ally in the state government—won 17 seats. The BJP did not ally with the BPF, against which it had campaigned vociferously, but went with the UPPL. There are three ministers from the BPF in Sonowal’s Cabinet.

Explained | Why are BJP and ally BPF fighting each other in Assam’s Bodoland Territorial Council polls?

In a Cabinet meeting held on Sunday, none of the three were present.

“With the love and support of the people of BTC, our party has got the single largest majority with 17 seats out of 40. Since we are in alliance with the BJP in central as well as the state, our party is hopeful that the BJP will support us in forming the government. Our party is committed to work for the growth and prosperity of our region,” Hagrama Mohilary, the BPF supremo and former BTC CEM, had posted on social media after the results.

As the new alliance in the BTC was announced on Sunday, top BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, congratulated the UPPL and called the party an ally.

Explained

Shifts and gains ahead of state polls

Sunday’s BTC polls results are the harbinger of political shifts ahead of the state polls next year. The BJP went after the BPF during the campaign and decided to dump it after the results, although the latter did win 17 seats. It remains to be seen if this marks the beginning of the end of BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary. How the UPPL -BJP alliance fares in the state polls is to be seen. The results also signal BJP’s arrival in BTR—from one seat last time to nine now. The party seems to have benefitted from the Bodo accord to usher in peace and development in the strife-torn region.

“NDA is committed to serving the people of the Northeast. I congratulate our ally UPPL and @BJP4Assam for securing a majority in the Assam BTC election, and wish them the very best in fulfilling people’s aspirations. I thank the people for placing their faith in the NDA,” PM Modi tweeted.

This year’s BTC election comes after the Centre signed a landmark peace and development accord with Bodo groups in January, which was followed by the laying down of arms by over 1,600 cadres of the militant outfit National Democratic Front of Bodoland. The accord and the promise of its quick implementation gives the BJP an advantage in the elections. As the leader of the All Bodo Students’ Union then, Promod Boro was a signatory to the accord.

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