The Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) election, the results for which were declared on Saturday, threw up a fractured mandate with no party able to gather the winning figure. Deemed the “semi-final” before the Assam legislative polls of next year, it, however, saw the BJP making major inroads with nine seats won this time compared to one in 2015.
The BTC has 46 members, of which 40 are elected and six nominated. Elections were held to the body on December 7 and 10. This was the first such election since the Bodo Peace Accord was signed earlier this year.
The Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), which has ruled BTC for close to 17 years, failed to win 21 seats, the minimum required to rule the council independently. It won 17, three less than what it had in 2015. The outfit, led by militant-turned-politician Hagrama Mohilary, still emerged as the single-largest party.
Interestingly, the BPF had been in alliance with the BJP during the last election. This time the BJP not only went solo, but even took on key ally BPF. Earlier, the Assam BJP had hinted that it would not like to continue its alliance with the BPF for the 2021 Assam polls, a mere six months away.
The BJP’s stellar performance has followed aggressive campaigning by the national party, with Himanta Biswa Sarma, the BJP’s go-to man for Assam as well as the northeast region, leading massive rallies across the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) in the run-up to the election.
The BJP state brass was engaged in deliberations late into Saturday night and a decision on the formation of the Council is likely to be announced later in the day today, PTI reported. Mr Sarma told reporters that a decision will be announced after discussions with Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
In the meantime, the opposition alliance of Congress and the Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) performed poorly this time. While the former managed to scrape one seat, the local outfit simply failed to take off.
Finally, the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL), a hardliner party, has emerged as the potential kingmaker this election with 12 seats. It is led by student-leader-turned politician Pramod Boro, a key signatory to the Bodo Peace Accord.
The 2021 Assam assembly polls are only six months away, with the BJP looking to win at least 100 of the 126 seats in the state. The choice of the 21 lakh-odd multi-ethnic voters of BTR was being viewed a test case before the main event next year.