Assam’s Kokrajhar Lok Sabha constituency, which comprises areas under the Bodoland Territorial Area District and some adjoining areas, elected a non-Bodo candidate for the first time in its electoral history.
A former ‘commander’ of the insurgent United Liberation Front of Asom, Naba Kumar Sarania (Hira), who contested as an Independent backed by the Sanimiita Janagosthiya Aikyamancha (SJA), a conglomerate of 23 non-Bodo organisations, including those representing linguistic and religious minorities, has become the first non-Bodo to represent the constituency, benefiting from a sharp polarisation of voters.
Of the 15,06,212 voters, Bodos numbering about six lakh form the largest group. About four lakh Muslims form the largest group among non-Bodo voters.Mr. Sarania defeated Urkhao Gwra Brahma, a former Rajya Sabha MP and veteran Bodo leader by a huge margin of 3,55,779 votes.
The ruling Congress’s ally, the Bodoland People’s Front, which controls the Bodoland Territorial Council that administers the BTAD areas comprising the four districts of Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri, finished third. The BPF won the seat in 2009 when its candidate Sansuma Khunggur Bwiswmuthiary secured 4,95,211 votes and defeated Mr. Urkhao Gwra Brahma, who polled 3,04,899 votesThis time the BPF’s Chandan Brahma, Transport Minister in Tarun Gogoi’s Cabinet, got 2,43,759 votes.
Mr. Urkhao Gwra Brahma stood as an Independent, backed by the All Bodo Students’ Union, the People’s Joint Action Committee for Bodoland Movement, the Bodoland People’s Progressive Front, the United Democratic People’s Front and the insurgent National Democratic Front of Boroland (Progressive).
All these five Bodo groups have been jointly fighting for creation of a separate state of Bodoland. The United Progressive Alliance government’s decision to create separate Telangana prompted Bodos to revive their statehood demand.