Voting for the Bodoland Territorial Council will take place in 2 phases next week
Ahead of the state assembly elections to be held in March-April next year, political parties in Assam are fighting in what has been announced as a semi-final to take over the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).
Voting for the council, which administers the Bodoland Territorial Region covering Udalguri, Kokrajhar, Baksa and Chirang districts, will take place in two phases on Monday and Thursday. Votes will be counted on December 12.
Voting for 40 seats on the council, which is included in the Sixth Program of the Constitution, scheduled for April was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the area was placed under the governor’s rule.
Since its formation in 2003, BTC had been ruled by Hagrama Mohilary, a former rebel who now heads the Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF), a partner in the ruling coalition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is the third partner.
Relations between BJP and BPF began to deteriorate after BTC was placed under the governor’s rule. Both parties are now contesting the BTC surveys separately. BPF has run candidates in 37 seats, while the BJP is running 26 and supports independent candidates in the other seats.
The campaign has been bitter and personal with Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma accusing Mohilary of large-scale corruption and the latter calling the former a bully.
“There is a lack of development in the BTC areas due to the poor governance of BPF. The large crowds at our rallies indicate that the BJP will come to power in BTC this time, ”Sarma said at an election rally in the Udalguri district on Saturday, the last day of the campaign for the first phase of voting.
“Sarma may be a bully in Dispur, but he has no say in BTC. We will return to power again and the BJP’s plan to rule BTC will fail, ”Mohilary said at an election rally.
Apart from the BJP and BPF, the opposition Congress and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), which have an agreement for the assembly elections, are contesting a total of 20 seats.
The other main contenders are the United People’s Liberal Party (UPPL), which is contesting all 40 seats, and Kokrajhar MP Nava Sarania’s Gana Suraksha Party (GSP), which is fighting for 35 seats.
The BTC polls would be the first elections in Assam since the Covid-19 pandemic began and the administrative and electoral machinery is geared towards ensuring a smooth vote while maintaining all health and safety protocols.
“There are 11 constituencies in our district and almost 7 lakh of voters. The electoral parties have gone to their posts and security arrangements have been made for Monday’s vote. Face masks, disinfectants, etc. have been provided. to election officials and social distancing will be maintained during the elections, ”said Ranjan Sarma, deputy commissioner for Baksa district.