BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, March 18: The Assam State Election Commission (ASEC) on Wednesday announced that elections to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) would be held on April 8 and counting would take place on April 11.
Addressing a press conference held here, ASEC Commissioner HN Bora said, “The last date of filing nomition papers is March 25 and the scrutiny will take place on March 26. The last date of withdrawal of nomitions is March 28 and the fil list of all the valid contesting candidates will be published on March 28,” adding, “On April 8, the polling will be held from 8 am to 4 pm.”
Bora further said, “Re-poll, if any, will be held on April 10. In the BTC, which comprises of 40 constituencies, 30 constituencies are reserved for scheduled tribe (ST) candidates, 5 for non-ST candidates and another 5 are open to all categories of candidates.”
The total number of polling stations is 2,778 and voters is 2,06,4099, Bora informed.
The ASEC Commissioner said that number of voters and polling stations had increased in the BTAD since the last Council polls in 2010.
On the law and order front during the elections, Bora said that 104 Central Paramilitary Force units had been deployed in the BTAD for peaceful conduct of elections. “If needed, more units of the Central Paramilitary Force will be deployed in the election-bound areas,” he said.
On the candidates’ election expenditure, Bora said, “The amount of poll expenditure to be done by a candidate in the fray has been enhanced to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 3 lakh in the last BTC elections.” In the 2010 BTC elections, Hagrama Mohilary-led Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF) got absolute majority but this time the picture could be different. “There are chances of split in the BPF vote bank with the launching of another Bodo political party backed by the influential All Bodo Students Union (ABSU),” an election observer said.
The decline of the BPF’s vote share and popularity was seen in the last Lok Sabha polls in which the non-Bodos played a major role and gave their mandate against the party, the election observer said, adding that the major role played by the non-Bodos in the last general elections had led to Independent candidate ba Kumar Sarania (Hira Sarania)’s victory by a huge margin.
“This time, the non-Bodo groups will field their candidates. But the picture will be not so rosy for the non-Bodo groups in this BTC poll as two non-Bodo political forces will make a split in the vote share,” poll observers said, adding, “After its break-up with the BPF, the ruling Congress party will fight the BTC polls this time on its own. The BJP will also field its candidate.”
It may be mentioned that some prominent BPF leaders had recently joined the BJP due to their ideological differences with the party leadership.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who visited Kokrajhar on Wednesday, blew the poll bugle.