Other States

Parties, ex-rebels add to Bodoland polls suspense amid violence

An influential citizens’ forum has said three of the four NDFB factions would support the BPF

Political parties and extremist groups have heightened the suspense over alignments as blood has begun spilling ahead of the elections to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) in Assam.

After State Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Ranjeet K. Dass said his party has kept the alliance options often, the factions of disbanded extremist group National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) appears to be caught between aligning with the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and its rival United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL).

The BPF, led by Hagrama Mohilary, has been ruling BTC since 2003. The BPF also runs the Assam government in alliance with the BJP and Asom Gana Parishad.

Scenario changes

Less than a week ago, the NDFB factions — they signed the third Bodo Peace Accord along with the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) in January — were expected to either float a new party or join the UPPL.

The scenario appears to have changed now.

On Saturday, an influential citizens’ forum said three of the four NDFB factions would support the BPF. Ranjan Daimary, B. Saoraigwra and Dhirendra Boro lead these factions.

The fourth faction, led by Gobinda Basumatary, is likely to support UPPL, which has been upbeat after the joining of former ABSU president Pramod Boro.

A UPPL leader, however, said there was no certainty of the three NDFB factions joining or backing the BPF. “These are still early stages,” he said.

Assam Minister Pramila Rani Brahma, a senior BPF leader, said she was unaware of the NDFB factions throwing their weight behind her party. But she was “unhappy” with the BJP.

“It is unfortunate that they are weighing options despite being a long-time ally of BPF,” she said.

Key role

Former extremists have played a key role in the elections to the BTC, many of whose leaders were members of the Bodo Liberation Tigers, an erstwhile outlawed group. In the past elections, the UPPL was alleged to have received support from the NDFB.

A third entity, that of a conglomerate of non-Bodo communities, is led by Naba Kumar Sarania. A former leader of the United Liberation Front of Asom, he represents the Kokrajhar Lok Sabha seat.

The intensity of the Bodoland poll campaign involving former extremists has often led to violence in the past. The run-up to the council polls scheduled in April has been no different.

On Friday night, a BPF member identified as Khairul Haque was gunned down at Bhutiachang in northern Assam’s Udalguri district. This happened less than 24 hours after miscreants had attacked the car of BPF chief Mr. Mohilary’s wife.

The BPF accused Mr. Sarania’s non-Bodo front for the killing of Mr. Haque. The latter said the charges were baseless.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 8:15:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/parties-ex-rebels-add-to-bodoland-polls-suspense-amid-violence/article30895517.ece

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