GUWAHATI: Just days after a BJP-led coalition had grabbed power in Assam’s autonomous Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), the Gauhati High Court issued an order asking the council to maintain “status quo” on its administrative works.
The order, passed by the single-judge bench of Justice Suman Shyam on Friday, comes at a time when the newly-elected council members are yet to begin discharging duties. The next hearing on the case has been fixed for December 22.
Earlier, former BTC chief, Hagrama Mohilary, who is also the president of Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and some of his party colleagues had filed a writ petition in the court challenging the constitutional validity of the appointment of the council’s Chief Executive Member (CEM) and other members.
Six newly-elected members of the council were administered the oath of office and secrecy in Kokrajhar on Tuesday. Former student leader Pramod Bodo, who is the president of United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL), was sworn in as the BTC’s CEM and insurgent leader-turned-politician Gobinda Basumatary as the deputy CEM.
The petitioners alleged violation of rules under Election Rules, 2004. They contended that since the BPF had emerged as the single largest party by winning 17 of the BTC’s 40 seats, it should have been invited by the governor to prove the majority.
Earlier, Assam’s Social Welfare Minister and BPF leader Pramila Rani Brahma had said her party should have been given a chance to prove the majority. Another BPF leader, Maheswar Basumatary, had described the development as “murder of democratic norms”.
The BTC administers four Assam districts and it comes under the Constitution’s Sixth Schedule. The governor is the council’s constitutional head.
After the results were declared on December 12, the BJP forged a post-poll alliance with the UPPL and the Gana Suraksha Party (GSP). They have altogether 22 elected members – 12 from UPPL, nine from BJP, and one from GSP. Recently, the sole elected member from the Congress defected to the coalition, taking its tally to 23.