BPF’s split with ally BJP in Assam may be a boost for Congress-led alliance
Relations between BJP and BPF soured in early 2020 when BTC, which was under the latter’s rule was placed under Governor’s rule at the end of the council’s five-year term as election couldn’t be held due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the prevailing restrictions.
In a surprise announcement on Saturday night, Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), an alliance partner of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition in Assam, decided to join the Congress-led ‘grand alliance’ for the coming assembly polls in the state.
While differences between BJP and BPF were well known and it was expected the latter would not contest the polls as a partner of the saffron party, the switch to old ally Congress was not foreseen.
The move came amid speculations that the party with significant influence in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) districts of Kokrajhar, Udalguri, Chirang and Baksa would join the regional alliance of newly formed Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and Raijor Dal (RD) or may contest alone.
“People of Assam are struggling with inflation and mass unemployment, along with which the insensitive BJP government is imposing the anti-people Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Fed up with the ruling government, people are saying ‘Assam Bachao’ (Save Assam). I also believe the Congress-led alliance can give better governance,” BPF president Hagrama Mohilary said on Sunday.
“We joined the alliance as there was demand for it from the people of Bodoland. The BJP will be routed and our alliance will come to power. In the past weeks, we have seen public sentiment across Assam in favour of the Congress-led alliance. Keeping the best interest of Bodoland in mind, we decided to join the winning alliance,” he added.
Opposition Congress, which had formed the ‘Mahajut’ (Grand Alliance) with All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), three Left parties and a newly formed regional outfit, is enthused by the development.
In 2016, BJP, which had won 60 of the 126-seats in the assembly, had come to power for the first time in Assam with support of BPF (12) and AGP (14). Congress had won 26 seats and AIUDF won 13.
“The ‘Mahajut’ has increased its strength as our old friend BPF has decided to join us. Assam’s destiny is about to change for the better. Our alliance is coming to power and BPF could see which way the wind is blowing. We are grateful for the renewed faith Hagrama Mohilary has shown in the Congress,” state Congress president Ripun Bora said on Sunday.
On Saturday’ Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Tejaswi Yadav announced in Guwahati that his party would also be a part of the ‘Mahajut’ and expressed that they would contest few seats in Assam where Hindi-speaking voters have considerable influence.
This is not the first time BPF has join hands with Congress. BPF won 11 seats in the 2006 assembly polls and became part of the second Tarun Gogoi-led government. The party won 12 seats in 2011 and continued its partnership with the Gogoi ministry.
The party also remained in power in Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) from 2003 till last year. In 2016 assembly polls, BPF switched sides and joined the BJP-led alliance of which AGP is also a member.
Relations between BJP and BPF soured in early 2020 when BTC, which was under the latter’s rule was placed under Governor’s rule at the end of the council’s five-year term as election couldn’t be held due to Covid-19 pandemic and the prevailing restrictions.
In the election to BTC held in December 2020, BJP decided to join hands with United Peoples’ Party Liberal (UPPL). Although BPF secured wins in 17 of the 40 seats in the council, UPPL (12), BJP (9) and Gana Suraksha Party (1) managed to wrest control of BTC.
Despite the development and increasing rift between BJP and BPF, the latter continued in the state government with the hope that things could change in the assembly polls. But with BJP deciding to partner with UPPL, Mohilary decided to join ‘Mahajut’, a day after poll schedule was announced.