GUWAHATI: Political parties in Assam are livid with the state’s BJP-led government over the continued uncertainty surrounding the election to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).
They insisted on the holding of the polls by maintaining social distancing and other Covid-19 protocols.
The BTC is an autonomous body and it partially administers Kokrajhar, Udalguri, Baksa, and Chirang districts. The BTC comes under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and the Governor is its constitutional head.
The election to the council, initially scheduled for April 4, was deferred indefinitely due to the pandemic. Subsequently, the Governor assumed to himself the charge of the BTC for six months. BJP ally Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), which has ruled the BTC all throughout ever since its creation in 2003, had moved the Gauhati High Court challenging Governor’s rule but it dismissed the petition.
There was a perception that the election will be held after the expiry of the Governor’s rule on October 27 but the state government has advised the state election commission to consider its postponement given the spike in Covid-19 cases. The opposition parties argued that the election could be held by adhering to the protocols.
“We feel the election should be held as it is not good if a democratic process remains collapsed for a long time. The election can be held by maintaining the Covid-19 protocols,” regional United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) president Promod Bodo said.
Kokrajhar MP Naba Sarania, who is the chief of Gana Suraksha, categorically stated that the Governor’s rule must not be extended.
“I feel the election should be held after the expiry of Governor’s rule. If Bihar can go to an election, we can also go. We want the election so that the new council can be formed,” Sarania said.
Senior BPF leader Khampa Borgoyari echoed Sarania. “Yes there is this pandemic but the world hasn’t come to a stop. Local and village council elections were held in Mizoram recently. Rajasthan will also hold Panchayat elections soon. Even, America is preparing for the Presidential election,” he pointed out.
The minority-based political party All India United Democratic Front said the BJP was not keen on holding the polls for the fear of defeat. It urged the government to save democracy by holding the election. The Congress accused the saffron party of doing politics over the BTC election.
There is a perception that BJP and its alleged ally UPPL will gain if the BPF could be kept outside power for a long time.