National

BJP ally faces stronger opposition in Bodoland council polls

Ex-student leader Pramod Boro joins UPPL giving it a boost

For the first time since 2003, an ally of the BJP is expected to face a strong opposition in the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) polls in Assam.

Elections to the 40-seat tribal council are scheduled in April. The council, established under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and headquartered in western Assam’s Kokrajhar town, covers four districts where the Bodo community has a sizeable population.

On Friday evening, ex-student leader Pramod Boro joined the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) headed by former Rajya Sabha MP Urkhao Gwra Brahma. The former was immediately made the party’s working president.

Mr. Boro had resigned as the president of the influential All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) soon after signing the third Bodo Peace Accord on January 27 along with leaders of all the factions of the disbanded extremist group National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB).

Mr. Brahma has been one of the most vocal critics of the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and its chief Hagrama Mohilary, who is also the chairman of the BTC. The BPF is one of the two regional constituents of the BJP-led alliance government in Assam.

The UPPL’s inability in becoming a major political force all these years has made Mr. Boro more of an opposition leader in the BTC areas while spearheading the Bodoland statehood movement — shelved after the January accord — during his prolonged stint as the ABSU chief. He had several run-ins with the BTC leadership during that phase.

Political analysts said Mr. Boro’s joining the UPPL in the presence of several former NDFB leaders has made it clear that the BTC polls would be one of the most keenly contested. There are indications that some NDFB leaders would join the UPPL in the run-up to the polls.

The NDFB had been the rival of the Bodo Liberation Tigers, an erstwhile extremist group that primarily metamorphosed into the BPF. Mr. Mohilary was the Tigers’ chairman until declaring truce before the formation of the BTC.

What has given an impetus to the UPPL was the BJP’s indication that it was open to tying up with either the BPF or any other party that controls the BTC. A few days ago, the BPF reacted strongly when Assam BJP president Ranjit Kumar Dass said his party was keen on expanding its footprint in the BTC areas.

“Things do not happen according to the wishes of Ranjit Dass,” Mr. Mohilary said.

Mr. Boro said he was not thinking in terms of capturing power. “Our objective is to ensure the implementation of all the clauses of the new peace accord for permanent peace, stability and development in the Bodo areas,” he said.

The BTC areas have been lagging due to faulty governance, he said and added that the UPPL would work out its electoral strategy soon.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 2:53:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/bjp-ally-faces-stronger-opposition-in-bodoland-council-polls/article30891084.ece

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