After Fractured Poll Results, BJP To Back Hardliner In Assam's Bodoland

Hardliner party, UPPL, has emerged as the kingmaker while the Congress-AIUDF saw a virtual wipeout.

No party has managed to win the 21 seats required to rule BTC independantly.

Guwahati:

Student leader-turned-politician Pramod Boro is all set to become the new chief of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) after the BJP extended its support to his party, the UPPL, in the wake of the recently-held election throwing up a fractured mandate and no single party getting the winning number.

Mr Boro is a key signatory to the Bodo Peace Accord signed earlier this year and his outfit, the United People's Party Liberal (UPPL), is viewed as a hardliner, insisting on a separate Bodoland.

As a student leader, he led the powerful All Bodo Students Union which had spearheaded the separate Bodoland movement. Mr Boro is now all set to become the Chief Executive Member of the BTC.

Following intense deliberations since the results were declared on Saturday, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today said that a coalition government will be formed in BTC, with the BJP extending support to the UPPL. While his own party won nine seats in the election held on December 7 and 10, Mr Boro's outfit won 12, making for the 21 seats required to rule the Bodoland body. In any case, the Gana Suraksha Party (GSP) also has one seat, giving the new coalition an edge.

"NDA secured a comfortable majority...I thank the people of Assam for their continued faith in the Prime Minister's resolve towards a developed northeast," Union Home Minister Amit Shah said today, according to ANI.

The BTC has 46 members, of which 40 are elected and six nominated. Deemed the "semi-final" before the Assam legislative polls of next year, this was the first such election since the Bodo Peace Accord was signed earlier this year.

The Bodoland People's Front (BPF), which has ruled BTC for close to 17 years, won only 17, three less than what it had in 2015. The outfit, led by militant-turned-politician Hagrama Mohilary, still emerged as the single-largest party.

Interestingly, the BPF had been in alliance with the BJP during the last election. This time the BJP not only went solo, but even took on the BPF. Earlier, the Assam BJP had hinted that it would not like to continue its alliance with the BPF for the 2021 Assam polls, a mere six months away.

The BJP's stellar performance - it won only one seat in the 2015 election - has followed aggressive campaigning by the national party, with Himanta Biswa Sarma, the BJP's go-to man for Assam as well as the northeast region, leading massive rallies across the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) in the run-up to the election.

The opposition alliance of Congress and the Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) performed poorly, with only the former managing to scrape a lone seat.

The 2021 Assam assembly polls are only six months away, with the BJP looking to win at least 100 of the 126 seats in the state. The choice of the 21 lakh-odd multi-ethnic voters of BTR was being viewed a test case before the main event next year.