Assam polls: Candidate from Congress ally, BPF, joins BJP ahead of 3rd phase
- BPF was earlier a partner of the ruling BJP-led coalition in Assam along with Asom Gana Parishad.
With less than a week to go for the third and final phase of assembly polls in Assam, a candidate from Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF), a partner of the opposition Congress-led grand alliance, switched sides and joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) late on Wednesday night, said a senior BJP minister.
“Official candidate of BPF and so called Congress-led alliance from Tamulpur LAC (legislative assembly constituency) Shri Ram Das Basumatary met me a short while ago. He has express(ed) his desire to join BJP and retire from the election,” Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted around midnight. The candidate, Rangja Khungur Basumatary, who is also known as Ram Das Basumatary, couldn’t be reached over phone to confirm the development.
It is expected that Basumatary will formally join the BJP in front of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is slated to address a poll rally at Kokrajhar, the headquarters of Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR), on Thursday. It is also being speculated that 4-5 other BPF candidates might also switch sides.
Election to the Tamulpur seat will take place on April 6 in the third and final phase. Besides Basumatary, there are 10 other candidates in the fray from the seat, the most prominent being Leho Ram Boro of the United Peoples’ Party Liberal (UPPL), an alliance partner of the BJP.
Basumatary can’t officially take back his candidature from the Tamulpur seat since the time limit for withdrawal of nomination papers for the third phase is over, but due to his retirement from the contest, it is likely to make things very easy for the UPPL candidate.
BPF was earlier a partner of the ruling BJP-led coalition in Assam along with Asom Gana Parishad. But things soured between the saffron party and the BPF ahead of election to Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) in December last year when BJP joined hands with UPPL to come to power in the council which administers four districts in lower Assam.
For this election, BPF decided to join hands with the Congress-led ‘grand alliance’ which also has All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) as a partner. BPF, which won 12 seats in 2016, is contesting the same number of seats this time.
There’s a keen contest between both the BPF and the UPPL in the four districts. While the UPPL is contesting from 11 seats, its alliance partner, the BJP, is contesting from 4 seats. Both parties will have ‘friendly contests’ in three seats.