In Assam, 1 more Congress ally moves candidates out of state - Hindustan Times
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In Assam, 1 more Congress ally moves candidates out of state

By, Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Apr 11, 2021 11:43 PM IST

The BJP has dubbed the move by Congress allies as drama and expressed confidence that the party along with its allies, Asom Gana Parishad and UPPL, would return to power with resounding majority.

Two days after the All India United Democtratic Front (AIUDF) sent its assembly election candidates to Rajasthan over fears of horse-trading by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), another Congress ally, Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF) has done the same with its candidates.

Bodoland Peoples' Front (BPF) president Hagrama Mohilary shows his finger marked with indelible ink after casting his vote at a polling station, during the third and final phase of Assam assembly elections 2021, at Kokrajhar earlier this week. (PTI PHOTO.)
Bodoland Peoples' Front (BPF) president Hagrama Mohilary shows his finger marked with indelible ink after casting his vote at a polling station, during the third and final phase of Assam assembly elections 2021, at Kokrajhar earlier this week. (PTI PHOTO.)

Though the destination of the BPF candidates is not clear yet, sources said that 10 of them have been taken to neighbouring Bhutan on Saturday and could stay there till counting of votes take place on May 2.

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“I am not sure where they (the candidates) are now. But the candidates are outside Assam, that’s confirmed. I am not going anywhere,” said senior BPF leader Pramila Rani Brahma, who contested from the Kokrajhar East seat.

Another person familiar with the development said that the candidates may have been taken to Nepal as well. Along with the candidates, some of the party’s elected members of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) have also been taken abroad.

Click here for complete coverage of Assam assembly elections

Polling for the 126-seat Assam assembly, which took place in three phases concluded on April 1. The main contest is between the BJP-led ‘mitrajot’ (alliance of friends) and the Congress-led 10-party ‘mahajot’ (grand alliance).

BPF, which was part of the BJP-led government in the state, joined the Congress camp this time and contested from 12 seats, mostly in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) of Lower Assam. The party had won 12 seats in 2011 and had three cabinet ministers in the Sarbananda Sonowal government.

BPF suffered a setback even before polling when Rangja Khungur Basumatary, the party candidate from the Tamulpur seat retired from the contest six days prior to the third phase of polling and joined the BJP.

BPF, which ruled the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) for 17 years, has a strong presence in four BTR districts. The party is expected to see a keen contest with United Peoples’ Party Liberal (UPPL), which is now heading the council with support of the BJP.

Read more: Election Commission announces re-election in 4 polling booths in Assam

“We can imagine our alliance partners doing what they think best to safeguard their candidates from the dirty tricks of BJP. We have already witnessed in Goa, Manipur and other places, how BJP can manipulate voters’ verdict to gain power. Congress is not taking its candidates anywhere,” senior Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP Pradyut Bordoloi said.

The BJP has dubbed the move by Congress allies as drama and expressed confidence that the party along with its allies, Asom Gana Parishad and UPPL, would return to power with resounding majority.

“The fear among Congress’s partners shows their own lack of confidence in their candidates. They are resorting to such antics as they know they would lose. We don’t need to seek support of their candidates as the ‘mitrajot’ is coming back to power very comfortably,” said BJP spokesperson Subhash Dutta.

Akhil Ranjan Dutta, professor of political science Gauhati University said that all political parties are vulnerable and the fear of poaching of candidates is genuine.

“It is now seen that candidates of most political parties don’t have ideological and political commitment. Political parties also don’t seem to have control over their representatives. This is an extremely unhealthy trend for Assam and an insult to the voters’ verdict,” he added.

On April 9, three days after end of polling for the third phase, AIUDF, which contested 20 seats, took 18 of their candidates to Rajasthan. While pilgrimage to Ajmer Sharif Dargah was stated as the reason for the trip, party leaders admitted that fear of their candidates being ‘influenced’ by BJP ahead of counting had prompted the move.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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