Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Friday said his government did not favour further division of the State for creation of Bodoland or any new State, and wants all sections to live together and prosper.
Mr. Gogoi spelt out the State government’s stand on the floor of the Assembly after Bodo Ministers in his Cabinet and legislators of the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), the coalition partner of the ruling Congress, raised the demand for creation of a separate Bodoland during zero hour on the last day of the five-day winter session.
BPF legislators, led by Karendra Basuatary, stood up as soon as zero hour began and drew the attention of the House by displaying placards stating their demand.
The 126-member Assembly has 11 BPF legislators, of whom three are in the Tarun Gogoi Cabinet. The Bodo legislators welcomed the creation of Telangana and insisted there was no alternative to the creation of a Bodoland.
After this, Leader of the Opposition Chandra Mohan Patowary urged the Chief Minister to spell out the State government’s stand. Mr. Gogoi said the demand for Bodoland was an old one, as were demands for creation of a separate Kamtapur State, Ahom land in upper Assam, Autonomous State of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills.
The National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB), a militant outfit, has also demanded a separate Bodoland.
Mr. Gogoi said although various communities and groups have been demanding creation of separate, smaller States, his government did not want any more bifurcation of Assam. “We want that all of us should live together and in harmony,” he added.
Later, senior BPF leader and Transport Minister in the Gogoi Cabinet Chandan Brahma said his party would launch a democratic mass movement to achieve the goal of a Bodoland.
However the Bodoland People’s Progressive Front (BPPF), the arch rival of the BPF, alleged that the Hagrama Mahilary-led BPF had raised the Bodoland demand only with an eye on the 2010 Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) elections.
Senior BPPF leader and former Rajya Sabha MP Urkhao Gwra Brahma said his party wanted the formation of the Second State Reorganisation Committee that would go into each of the demands for creation of separate State and make its recommendations after examining the feasibility and viability of each such proposed State. He also demanded the declaration of a uniform, countrywide policy by the Central government on creation of new State.
The BPF is now ruling the BTC, an administrative set up enjoying autonomy under amended provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and its jurisdiction extending over 8970 sq. km. covering four districts — Kokrajhar, Baska, Chirang and Udalguri.
Asked if the Bodos were not satisfied with the present BTC arrangement, Mr. Brahma said when the erstwhile militant outfit Bodo Liberation Tigers negotiated with the Centre their demand for statehood, they were told by the then National Democratic Alliance government that there was no policy to bifurcate existing States.
“Accordingly, we settled for BTC in lieu of a separate State of Bodoland. Now, since the United Progressive Alliance government has announced a new policy of creation of Telangana, we have decided to raise the demand for Bodoland, which will ensure more powers to fulfil the aspirations of the Bodo people,” the Minister said.