The Congress and its ruling ally in Assam have parted ways ‘amicably’ for the fratricide-scarred Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) polls slated for April 9.
Political clashes across the four districts of BTC have claimed at least 30 persons since November 8 last year. Most of the victims were supporters of either the Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF) or the rival Bodoland Peoples’ Progressive Front (BPPF).
The BPF rules the BTC and is also the ruling ally of the Congress in Assam.
The last couple of days saw the pre-election violence shift to within the BPF, as supporters torched party offices and burnt effigies of leaders. The eruption followed BPF’s decision to leave 12 of the council’s 40 seats to the Congress.
On Thursday, BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary – he heads the BTC too – “gave in” to popular demand and buried the seat-sharing agreement. “We will now field candidates in all the 40 seats in the council,” he said.
The BPPF and its regional ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) were quick to underscore a ‘rift’ between the Congress and BPF. But Congress spokesman Haren Das ridiculed such inferences.
“We have now opted for a friendly contest. And our party will put up only 15 candidates besides deciding not to field candidates in the seats the top five BPF leaders are contesting,” Das told Hindustan Times.
The BPPF, on the other hand, has inked a seat-sharing pact with the AGP. The details of this arrangement are awaited.
The first elections to the BTC were held in 2005, two years the council was formed after an amendment to the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. The BPF, led mostly by former militants, won the council’s maiden elections.