Guwahati, Assam: In boom of BJP across the country, ever in history of Bodoland Territorial region BTC election results, it's not too often that a local tribal body or part like BPF, UPPL etc gets primetime attention, so much so that political pundits are even calling it a semi-final in the run-up to the state Assembly polls in early 2021.
While it may not be too far-fetched to say anything that happens in Bodoland makes it to national headlines, this time, the reasons are a bit different, though, as it revolves around the much-talked about elections to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC). BTC is an autonomous district council that was created for the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) of Assam in February 2013.
The elections were supposed to be held earlier in April this year, but had to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. After the polls were held in two phases on December 7 and 10, the counting of votes is currently underway on Saturday.
This BTC results of the elections will decide the fate of 241 candidates who contested for the 40 constituencies across four districts of the BTR under the BTC.
A lot is at stake this time around. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling party in the state and at the Centre, has pitted its own candidates against its ally in the Assembly -- the Bodoland People's Front (BPF), the latter itself is facing a wave of anti-incumbency, having ruled the region for close to 17 years. Benefitting from all this could be other parties such as the Promod Boro-led United People's Party Liberal (UPPL).
But before we look at who gains and who loses and what the results could mean for the upcoming state Assembly elections scheduled for early next year, let's recall a bit about what happened in the run-up to the high-voltage elections.
This year, the BJP has fielded 26 candidates for as many constituencies, while it is supporting independent candidates in 14 others. The ruling BPF, meanwhile, has fielded only 37 candidates and the UPPL in all 40 seats.
This is in sharp contrast to the last BTC elections in 2015 that saw a large number of independent candidates pitted against the then ruling party in the state, the Congress. While the Congress couldn't secure any seat, the BJP managed to bag only one. The BPF, which had been ruling BTC since 2003 when it was created, came back to power again by winning 20 seats. The figure later became 24 after after four All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) winners joined the saffron party a year later in 2016.
Fast forward to 2020. That the BPF supremo, Hagrama Mohilary, has been engaging in cold war with the BJP heavyweight and minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is not a secret. But what adds to the drama is that neither the BPF nor the BJP has once said that the alliance is truly over.
It all started when the BPF was reportedly asked to give away five Assembly seats in the region -- Barama, Tamulpur, Chapaguri, Panery and Udalguri. The face-off began when Hagrama refused to accept the arrangement.
Meanwhile, opposition Congress and Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF are contesting as ally partners in the BTC elections. This is for the first time that the two parties are doing so. It is a strong indicator of a probable change in the political scenario ahead of the Assembly polls.
The UPPL had earlier said that the party did not have any issue in forging an alliance with the BJP either in the state Assembly or in the BTC. This means the BJP has both the parties on its side. It will now all depend on the outcome of the results.