The political heatwave ahead of the ensuing general election of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) has begun blowing in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) in Assam amid the coronavirus pandemic. All the political parties have pulled their socks up to give a tough fight in the election to pocket the council.
Hundreds of workers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and United People's Party Liberal (UPPL) have joined the BPF on June 7th, 2020. At the same time, the BPF has also faced erosion in the party. The two-time former MLA and senior BPF leader Hemendra Nath Brahma joined the UPPL along with hundreds of workers while Tamulpur MLA Emmanuel Moshahary quit BPF recently. This can be termed as biggest blow for the BPF ahead of the election.
While the former BTC chief Hagrama Mohilary-led Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF) has claimed that it would win the council’s election with absolute majority, the Korkrajhar parliamentarian Naba Kumar Sarania expressed his confidence to overthrow BPF. On the other hand, UPPL president Pramod Boro said that the people of the region will definitely go for a change this election.
Although the BPF is an ally of the ruling BJP in the state, both the party will contest the election solely saying that they have mutually agreed to this.
Also read: Assam Governor visits Udalguri, asks admin to adhere to health ministry guidelines
Postponement of the election, which was slated to be held on April 4th, 2020, followed by the imposition of the Governor’s rule by the BTC after dissolving the previous council body has sparked disagreement among the political parties in terms of holding the election.
While a senior BPF leader said it would not be possible to hold the election until the situation gets normal in the state. “It would not be possible to hold the election as the COVID-19 cases are rising rapidly across the country,” he added.
On contrary to that, UPPL leader Pramod Boro said, “Government can hold the election if it is manageable.”
After the end of the tenure of the previous council on April 27th, 2020, the Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi had assumed the charge of administration of the sixth schedule council. Since then, the BTR administration is running without any government.
While BPF had vehemently opposed the imposition of Governor rule and opined to extend the tenure of the previous body, the UPPL had extended support to it.
Also read: Assam: BPF confident of winning BTC general election with absolute majority
However, the Governor visited the BTR twice to take stock of the law and order and COVID-19 situation defying the Home Minister guidelines. On May 19th, 2020, he visited Kokrajhar while May 28th, 2020, he visited Udalguri.
The elections for the 40 seats of the BTC were slated to be held on April 4th, 2020 while the counting on April 8th, 2020. The last date of filing the nominations was March 18th, 2020 and the last date of withdrawing the nominations was March 21st, 2020.
But, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 leading to enforcement of the nationwide lockdown, the elections were deferred. No new date has been declared by the Commission yet.
A total of 23,86,359 electors will exercise franchise in 3077 polling stations across 40 BTC constituencies.
The COVID-19 has infected a total of 2693 people and claimed four lives so far in Assam. Of 2693 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 2050 are active and 636 have been cured and discharged.
The state has witnessed a surge in the COVID-19 positive cases since May 17th, 2020. The first case was detected on March 31st, 2020 and the state recorded the first 100 cases on May 17th, 2020. It has the highest coronavirus cases in Northeast India followed by 800 in Tripura and 172 in Manipur.
Also read: Assam detects 12 COVID-19 cases in a single day, total reaches 2693
The country is now under Unlock 1.0 since June 1st, 2020. The nationwide lockdown was enforced to prevent the spread of the lethal virus by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 25th, 2020 initially for 21 days; which was later extended phase-wise to May 31st, 2020.
At this juncture, rallying for elections and voting might prove deadly for the locals. However, due to the lack of a local govt, things in certain areas seem troubling for BTR as the Corona pandemic requires heavy administrative guidance. Can BTR sustain the pandemic without a government or should it hold elections?
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