The Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), a constituent of the ruling BJP-led coalition in Assam, on Saturday announced a series of programmes to press for the demand for holding the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) election by October 27.
The election to the 40 constituencies of the BTC was earlier scheduled on April 4 but it was deferred in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The Council is currently administered under the supervision of Governor Jagadish Mukhi after its term expired on April 27.
The BPF will organise dharnas, hunger strike, torch rallies and bike rallies from Monday demanding that the poll be held by October 27, party general secretary Probin Boro said.
“Schools, colleges, offices, markets, shopping malls are now open. People are moving about. Inter-state and inter- district movement of public and private vehicles have been allowed. There is no valid reason not to conduct the BTC election," he said.
The Assam government has allowed classes for standard 12 and final year of undergraduate courses to be conducted from September 15 to 30 informally. However, the classes will be discontinued if any student or teacher tests positive for COVID-19 in between.
“The democratic rights of the people’s are being curbed by withholding the BTC polls," Boro said.
The BPF’s announcement came a day after senior BJP minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the BTC election was deferred due to the pandemic and the health department made it clear that it was not safe to hold polls before November 30.
Sarma also said that a decision will be taken on the issue based on the “Bihar experience".
Assembly election will be held in Bihar in three phases October 28 and November 3 and 7.
The State Election Commission announced on March 20, when filing of nomination papers and scrutiny had been completed, that the poll to the BTC was deferred.
The BTC election will be held after a fresh Bodo Accord was signed in New Delhi on January 27 providing the community with political and economic bonanza sans a separate state or Union Territory.
This is the third Bodo accord to be signed in the last 27 years during which violent movements for a separate Bodoland state claimed hundreds of lives and destruction of public and private properties.
The existing structure of the BTC will be strengthened with more powers, Sarma had said when the pact was signed.
The BTC currently has control over 30 subjects like education, forests, horticulture but no jurisdiction over the police, revenue and general administration departments, which are controlled by the Assam government.
The BTC was constituted under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution in 2003 to fulfill economic, educational and linguistic aspiration and the preservation of land-rights, socio-cultural and ethnic identity of the Bodos.
The BTC’s jurisdiction is over four districts — Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri.