In Bodo heartland, BJP ally on a sticky pitch

In Bodo heartland, BJP ally on a sticky pitch

In Bodo heartland, BJP ally on a sticky pitch

Renu Basumatary, 33, lives in Rupohi village in the remote interiors of Baksa district of lower Assam. 

Baksa along with Udalguri, Chirang and Kokrajhaar forms the Bodoland territorial Area District (BTAD) which is governed by the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).

 BTAD has been an area which has been boiling for decades with the clarion call by the largest tribal group in Assam, the Bodos, for a separate Bodoland state.

“The BTC was formed out of the Bodoland accord of 2003 and the BPF came to power. Not that the Bodo people are very happy with the BPF. They only work for their own party people, not even Bodos. The other non-Bodo communities get almost nothing from BPF. Under BPF we will never get a separate state, nor will conflicts ever end. We want change,” Renu says, wearing a cap in support of United People’s Party (UPP), a newly formed Bodo political party led by former Rajya Sabha member Urkhao Gwra Brahma.

UPP is contesting 13 seats and has formed an interesting alliance with the ruling Congress. 

The Congress has left four seats indie in the BTAD region for UPP, and UPP would be supporting the Congress outside the BTAD region and in some seats like Bhabanipur for which Renu would be casting her vote. 

The Congress and UPP would have “friendly” fight as the UPP would be cutting into the vote bank of the Hagrama Mohilary led Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF) which is in power in BTC and an ally of the BJP for the Assam poll.

There are total of 16 constituencies in BTAD, though four of them partially fall even in districts which are not inside BTAD. 

 In 2011 Assembly polls BPF had won 12 seats, the BJP had formed an alliance with it hoping for a repeat of that result, but the UPP is backed by the powerful All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU). It was ABSU that spearheads the separate Bodoland movement.

BPF might find itself in a shaky ground as thousands of Bodos are attending UPP rallies. UPP is seen among the Bodo society as hardliners on the Bodoland issue. 

The BPF on the other hand has been earlier a partner to the ruling Congress in Assam and now with the saffron party is seen to have a “compromised” position on the call for a separate Bodo state.

“BJP talks about identity politics. But does not talk about separate Bodoland and the BPF forms an alliance because it wants to stay with the power centre. There is a brief lull in this region, will BJP and BPF take the responsibility if the region erupts again.  

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