The BJP on Sunday virtually dumped one of its coalition partners in Assam, the BPF, and picked up a new ally to gain majority and rule the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), a self-governing body in the Bodo-dominated areas of the state. The Bodoland People's Front (BPF), which has three ministers in the Sarbananda Sonowal-led coalition government in the state, has emerged as the single-largest party in the just concluded BTC polls, winning 17 seats in the 40-member body.
BPF president Hagrama Mohilary said his party repeatedly appealed to the BJP to follow the "coalition" norms and help it to form a "government" in the BTC, but the BJP ignored the pleas. The United People's Party Liberal (UPPL) has won 12 seats, the BJP nine, while the Congress and the Gana Suraksha Party (GSP), headed by Lok Sabha MP Naba Sarania, got one each.
Shortly after senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah congratulated the UPPL for winning 12 seats and also termed the party an "ally" in his tweet, Chief Minister Sarbanada Sonowal announced that UPPL chief Pramod Boro will be the new Chief Executive Member (CEM) in the BTC. While the BPF and UPPL are considered rivals in the Bodo-dominated areas, there was no pre-poll alliance among other parties as well.
"Since we are part of the state government in Dispur, I appeal to the BJP to help the BPF to form the government in the BTC. We have not broken the alliance with the BJP and it should follow the coalition," Mohilary, who had been the CEM for the past 17 years, told a press conference in Kokrajhar, the headquarters of the BTC. However, the BJP ignored the pleas. Soon, the Union home minister tweeted, "NDA secured a comfortable majority in Assam BTC election. Congratulations to our ally UPPL, CM @sarbanandsonwal, @himantabiswa, @RanjeetkrDass and @BJP4Assam unit.
"I thank people of Assam for their continued faith in PM @narendramodi's resolve towards a developed North East," Shah said. Later, at a press conference, Sonowal announced that the BJP, UPPL and GSP have joined hands for the BTC and UPPL chief Pramod Boro will be the new CEM.
The BJP and BPF, along with the AGP, fought the 2016 assembly elections together in which BPF got 12 seats, winning all they has contested. Three of its MLAs are still ministers in the Sonowal government. BPF's lone Rajya Sabha member Biswajit Daimari, before he formally joined the BJP last month, had been supporting the Narendra Modi government on different occasions in the upper house. However, Daimari joined the BJP last month.
This is the second time that the BJP broke its ties with a coalition partner in recent times. In 2018, the saffron party pulled the plug on the Mehbooba Mufti led PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir. The Shiv Sena and Akali Dal themselves have walked out of the NDA in the past one year.