GUWAHATI: Ethnic politics in Assam’s Bodo heartland Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) is set for disruption.
After an unbroken stint of the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) ruling the autonomous Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) for 16 years, former leader of insurgent group United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) Naba Sarania, who is the BTAD’s sitting Kokrajhar MP, is set to trigger a major disruption with the votes of non-Bodos.
His newly-floated Gana Surakhya Party (GSP) is poised to upset the BPF’s applecart when the BTC goes to elections next year. He had won the past two Lok Sabha elections as an independent candidate by polarizing non-Bodo voters.
The BTAD is made up of four Lower Assam districts which are administered by the BTC. Given the threat looming large, BTC chairman Hagrama Mohilary, who too was the chief of erstwhile rebel group Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), has called for the unification of the Bodos.
Recently, he said he had been in talks with the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL), which is led by former MP Urkhao Gwra Brahma, for political unification of the two parties. Mohilary, who is also the BPF president, knows it well that the Bodos have to unite to stave off the threat coming from the GSP.
The BTC was formed in 2003 in the aftermath of the Bodo peace accord. Its signing was preceded by the disbanding of the BLT. Sarania described the accord as “undemocratic” and “one-sided”.
He said the GSP was floated on Sunday in protest against alleged atrocities on the non-Bodos settled in BTAD. It was also because no political parties cared for the non-Bodos, he said.
“We’re hopeful that we will get a majority in the BTC election and be in power. We will fight for equal rights and status for all communities across Assam. We will try and protect the Assamese language in BTAD,” Sarania said.
Alongside the GSP, the MP and groups helping him formed the “BTAD Army”. It will not, however, wield the gun.
“The BTAD Army will have 5,000 volunteers each in the four BTAD districts. It will protect the lives, property and livelihood of non-Bodos but through non-violent means. It will fight for the rights of the non-Bodos and against corruption. It will also rescue people during the times of natural calamities,” Sarania added.