Accord drives divide in Assam’s Bodo domain

Signatories to the third Bodo Accord appear to have unsettled signatories to the second accord of February 2003

February 16, 2020 07:25 pm | Updated 09:08 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Several parties sign the Bodo accord with centre and state government in this January 27, 2020 picture.

Several parties sign the Bodo accord with centre and state government in this January 27, 2020 picture.

The third Bodo Accord signed with a set of extremist groups more than a fortnight ago appears to have unsettled another set of extremists who signed the second accord in February 2003 and went on to rule the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).

The Centre had on January 27 signed the peace accord with all factions of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) and two other organisations, including the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU). The signatories subsequently announced their political ambitions with Pramod Boro suddenly quitting as the ABSU president.

The elections to the 40-member BTC are expected in April.

‘Cannot accept’

The political ambitions of the leaders of ABSU and NDFB appear to have rubbed the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), which has been ruling BTC since 2003 and is a partner in the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government in Assam, the wrong way.

“The new accord merely changes the name of BTC to Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) and gives us nothing. We cannot just accept this accord, we will not even use BTR as part of our vocabulary,” BTC chief Hagrama Mohilary said at a party meeting in Kokrajhar district’s Parbatjhora area on Saturday.

Mr. Mohilary’s outburst attains significance ahead of the BTC elections, where the ABSU has often sided with rival parties of the BPF, such as United People’s Party Liberal. Moreover, he was a witness to the January 27 accord-signing in New Delhi along with Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

The BTC chief, who headed the now-disbanded extremist group Bodo Liberation Tigers, has also been critical of Mr. Boro. “He used to say he would never become a politician and contest elections. He lied when he was with ABSU, he will lie more if he comes to power,” Mr. Mohilary said.

Boro retaliates

The former ABSU president retaliated by saying Mr. Mohilary has lost the trust the people of BTC had reposed in him. “The people are desperate for a change in leadership that has foresight and is honest about serving them,” Mr. Boro said at a welcome ceremony for the new accord signatories in Baksa district’s Musalpur area on Sunday.

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