After governor’s rule was imposed in the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) in Assam on April 27th, the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) which was in power in the council has expressed its displeasure over it and said that it is looking at other alternatives.
Hagrama Mohilary, former militant leader and BPF chief, in a series of Tweets today said that they strongly oppose the decision and has filed a petition against it at the Gauhati High Court. He added that although his party is in alliance with BJP at the state, they are forced to reconsider their understanding, and they are looking at other alternatives.
Mohilary tweeted that in this time of emergency, people in the region needed their government more, but instead of extending the term of the Council, the governor gave the charge of the region to the Principal Secretary of Assam.
The term of the BTC, which governs the four districts under the Bodoland Territorial Region, ended on 27th April. The elections for the council was scheduled on 4th April, but the elections were deferred due to the Coronavirus pandemic. At the time of deferring the elections, campaigning for the same was in full swing. BJP was contesting against the BPF in the elections and had fielded candidates in all 40 constituencies.
The ruling BPF, which is an ally of BJP along with Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in Assam, had asked that the term of the council should be extended by six months, but it was overruled and governor’s rule for six months was imposed instead.
The Bodoland Territorial Council is an autonomous district council established under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India. It comprises four districts in North-Western Assam north of Brahmaputra bordering Bhutan- Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri. These districts were collectively known as Bodoland Territorial Area District, which has been recently renamed as Bodoland Territorial Region.
The Bodoland People’s Front is in power in BTC for 17 years since it was formed in 2003, having won every election. This is the first time the party lost the power in the autonomous council. Before the governor rule was imposed, the party had appealed for either extending its term or holding elections. The party had said that as the region remains free of Coronavirus cases, elections can be held.
But as the ongoing lockdown is nationwide imposed by the union government, the election could not be held. Moreover, it was decided against extending the term of the current council. Principal Secretary to the State Government Rajesh Prasad was appointed as Administrator of BTC after the term of the council ended on 27th April.
Even though Hagrama Mohilary has threatened to reconsider their understanding on the alliance with BJP and looking at other alternatives, the Assam govt is in no danger, as the BJP’s alliance with AGP will still have the numbers if BPF pulls out. In 126 member Assam Assembly, BJP has 60 MLAs, while AGP has 14 and BPF has 12. The alliance also has the support of one independent MLA, and has 75 MLAs in support of it.
Assembly elections for Assam are scheduled to be held at early next year.