Fear of poaching by Opposition BPF leaves ruling members of BTC holed up in Guwahati hotel
Newly elected members of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) in Assam belonging to the ruling coalition are holed up in a Guwahati hotel for fear of poaching by the Opposition, Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF).
The 22 members belonging to United Peoples Party Liberal (UPPL), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Gana Surakha Party (GSP) were first brought to the hotel on Saturday night after results of election to the council were announced.
The council, which administers four districts -- Kokrajhar, Udalguri, Baksa and Chirang -- has 40 members. While the BPF, which was ruling BTC since its inception in 2003, became the single largest party with 17 members, no party secured majority.
UPPL, which got 12 seats, joined hands with BJP (nine) and GSP (one) and staked claim to form the next executive council. But the fear that the BPF might win over some of their legislators forced the newly cobbled coalition to shift their members to Guwahati 225 kms from Kokrajhar, the BTC headquarters.
A close watch was being kept on the newly elected members to ensure that they do not get in touch with outsiders. Senior BJP leaders were entrusted with the duty of monitoring the members on a shift basis.
Early on Tuesday morning, the members travelled together in a bus from Kokrajhar to take part in the swearing-in ceremony of UPPL president Pramod Boro as the new chief executive member (CEM) of BTC . Four others members --one from UPPL, two from BJP and one from GSP -- also took oath as executive members.
But as soon as the ceremony was over, the members from the ruling coalition were again huddled into the bus and taken back to the hotel.
“There’s no question of being apprehensive and everything is being done as per a process. Even I have not been to my house or my constituency after the win. We have been elected for five years and there will be time for that,” said UPPL chief and new BTC CEM Pramod Boro.
“But our first priority is to start planning and undo the damage done to BTC in the past 17 years by BPF. If we need 5-10 days for that, there’s no harm. People have voted for us to do their work and we are doing that,” he added.
Boro had earlier said that contrary to speculations of BPF poaching members of the ruling coalition, several members of from the Opposition are likely to switch sides and join the UPPL.
“There are some formalities on allocation of departments and swearing-in of the new members. All these should take a few more days and everything will get settled. Newly elected representatives staying in hotels is normal in politics these days, and the public knows it,” said GSP president Nava Kumar Sarania, the Lok Sabha MP from Kokrajhar.
On Monday, the lone Congress member elected to BTC, Sajal Kumar Singha, who won from the Srirampur seat, switched sides and joined the BJP. There are reports that at least one BPF member could join BJP soon.
The anti-defection law, which is applicable in Parliament and state assemblies, doesn’t cover local bodies and autonomous/territorial councils.