They had once believed in disrupting polls to send a message to ‘colonial India’. But now the same rebels have donned the colours of democracy.
Mandate 2011 has nine former militants seeking a berth to the Assam assembly.
Seven of them belonged to the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) while two were from the disbanded Bodoland Liberation Tigers (BLT).
Prafulla Bora, the Nationalist Congress Party’s candidate for the Bihpuria seat in north-eastern Assam, was notorious in his Ulfa avatar as Dhekiyal Phukan. He quit as the outfit’s Lakhimpur area commander in 1992 to run ‘businesses’, and tried in vain to get a Congress ticket in the 2001 and 2006 elections.
The Congress has fielded Suresh Bora alias Rocky against former CM Prafulla Kumar Mahanta of the AGP for central Assam’s Barhampur seat. “I will change the face of my constituency if I win,” said the former Ulfa rebel, who ironically surrendered before Mahanta in 2000.
The Congress has also fielded former BLT rebels Chandi Basumatary — he won the 2006 poll as independent — for the Tamulpur seat in central-western Assam, and Shibcharan Basumatary for the Dudhnoi seat in southwestern Assam.
Other erstwhile Ulfa men are contesting as independents: Jayanta Khound (Naoboicha), Shyamal Barua (Dibrugarh), Jiten Gogoi (Bokakhat) and Kushal Duwori (Thowrah).
Gogoi left Ulfa after a brawl with the brass in the early 1990s. He had won the Bokakhat seat in 2001 and 2006.
“The bottom line is to work for the people. They will always repay you. Ulfa chief Arabinda Rajkhowa and others should realise this,” Gogoi said.