Even as campaigning for the third Bodoland Territorial Council came to a close on Monday afternoon, political parties including the Congress and BJP have made numerous promises, with chief minister Tarun Gogoi saying if elected to power his party would provide a Rs 500-crore special economic package for the four Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts.
The BJP too has not lagged behind with union Joel Oram saying the BJP government at the Centre would soon grant Scheduled Tribe status to six communities of Assam whose demand has been pending fulfillment for over two decade now. The BJP in fact deployed three union ministers – including sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal and union MoS for Home Kiren Rijiju – to whip up its campaign.
The Bodo council election is very crucial for both Congress and BJP, especially in view of the forthcoming Assam assembly election due in less than 12 months from now.
The Bodo People’s Front (BPF), which had won the last two Council elections virtually without any opposition – both Congress and BJP had not contested on the two earlier elections – on the other hand is facing a tough time with several parties joining the fray. The People’s Coordination for Democratic Rights (PCDR,) which was floated by the All Bodo Students’ Union, has emerged as a major threat for the ruling BPF.
This is the first time since the BTC was created following the Bodo Accord of 2003 that all major parties are contesting in the elections there. While the BJP had not contested in the first two elections in 2005 and 2010, the Congress had supported the Bodo People’s Party (BPF), with which it had an alliance in the state level too, remaining partners in the state government till last year when the Bodo party withdrew.
Altogether 333 candidates are in the fray for election to 40 seats of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BT) slated for Wednesday, with the BPF, Congress and BJP putting up their candidates in all the 40 seats. The PCDR on the other hand is contesting in 38 seats. The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), CPI(M), AIUDF and the Sanmilita Janagosthiya Aikya Mancha (SJAM) have also put up candidates in several constituencies.
The State Election Commission which has asked the administration to ensure massive deployment of security forces during the election, said altogether 20,64,099 voters – 10,58,889 male and 10,05,210 female – will exercise their franchise at 2,778 polling stations. Nearly 600 polling stations have been declared as very sensitive. (ends)