The results of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) elections next month may change political equation in Assam ahead of Assembly elections slated early next year.
The Bodoland Peoples' Front (BPF), an ally of BJP-led government in the state, which is ruling BTC since its inception in 2003 is facing a tough fight this time from United Peoples Party Liberal (UPPL), a new political front, which has gained strength since several influential leaders joined it after signing the new Bodoland Accord in January this year.
With 12 MLAs, BPF led by former insurgent leader Hagrama Mohilary is an important ally of the state government since 2016 but BJP this time decided not to contest the BTC polls together with BPF. BJP is contesting in 27 of the 40 seats in BTC, an autonomous council formed under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
The repeated allegations levelled against BPF by BJP leaders during campaigns has caused much strain in relations between the two allies. In fact, BJP's strategist in the Northeast and Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma publicly announced that the pre-poll alliance with BPF would not be renewed this time for next year's poll. The central leaders, which met in New Delhi following Sarma's announcement, however, postponed the decision till results of the BTC polls are declared on December 12.
BTC elections will be conducted on December 7 and 10.
Sources within BJP said BTC poll results would decide the party's decision regarding the alliance at the state level--whether to renew ties with BPF or join hands with UPPL. "This time we see more possibility of a post-poll alliance in BTC with UPPL rather than BPF. So if we form the BTC with UPPL and if they (UPPL) comes to power, there is every possibility of an alliance at the state level too," said a BJP leader in Guwahati.
"But the central leaders are unwilling to take chance and may renew the alliance with BPF if Mohilary's party wins and forms BTC again. After all, the seats in BTC area, which is now called Bodoland Territorial Region is very crucial for formation of the government in the state," he said.
Congress, which is trying to stitch an alliance with Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front at the state level, is looking at an opportunity to have BPF on board once BJP severs the ties with BPF. Observers feel that BTR seats will be crucial given the increasing attempt of BJP to polarise votes for the Assembly elections.