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Bodoland: The hottest zone in Asom election

Written by: Staff
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Kokrajhar, Apr 8 (UNI) The Bodo region is the ''hottest zone'' in the Asom elections. Even the Election Commission (EC) accepts and has called in additional forces to ensure peaceful polls in the region on April 10.

With rival Bodo camps flexing their muscles in a fight for supremacy, the poll authorities in the Bodo-dominated constituencies of Asom are taking extra care to pre-empt any violence, especially in view of the clashes witnessed during the BTC polls in March.

''This time, we are ready with all security forces and will not allow any show of strength. We will ensure that people can vote freely,'' said Deputy Election Commissioner R Balakrishnan, on a special mission here to oversee the preparations.

Additional forces were being rushed in to ensure peaceful polls in view of the tense electioneering atmosphere, he said.

Internal dissensions have riven Bodo Peoples Political Forum (BPPF), created to act as a powerful representative of the community, into two factions led by prominent leaders, Rabiram Narzary and Hagrama Mohillary .

A unified BPPF could have emerged as a controlling force but its division has reduced it to a small time player in the state, negating all the advantages the Bodos had garnered over the years.

Though Bodo supremo Hagrama has announced that the next government would be controlled from Kokrajhar, not many take him seriously.

''Just before the BTC elections were held for the first time in March, BPPF was created to provide a strong political platform for the communities of this region, specially keeping in view both the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections to acquire a key position in the regional as well as national level politics,'' explains U G Brahma, MP.

Rabiram Narzary, heading the other faction of the Bodos, accuses Hagrama Mohilarry of acting as ''Congress 'B' team, crushing the hopes and aspirations of the Bodos, forcing us to separate''.

While the Hargrama faction has the support of the former Bodo Liberation Tiger (BLT) militants, Rabiram faction enjoys the support of moderate Bodos, led by the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU).

The BTC elections saw BPPF(H) getting a clear victory over BPPF(R) as all the 40 elected general members expressed allegiance to his faction. However, the unprecedented violence during the poll process stunned the state.

In the coming Assembly election, the divide in the BPPF has become more distinct. The Congress has extended five seats to the BPPF (H), which had fielded 19 candidates and the BPPF(R) has reached understanding with the AGP, AKRASU, AUDF and ABSU and has fielded 11 candidates in BTAD.

Meanwhile, the non-tribal communities like Adibashi, Nepali, Rajbanshis and Rabha remain uncertain over which Bodo faction to support.

With BPPF (R) all set to give a tough fight this time, the going is not expected to be easy for the BPPF(H) faction which dominated the BTC polls.

Though both factions of the BPPF have intensified their poll campaign and their manifestoes promise ''peace and development'', the voters are not even sure whether they will be able to vote in peace.

UNI MT JN BD1719

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