Guwahati, Jan. 10: The Assam state election commission has formally set in motion a plan to complete the much-delayed elections to the Rabha-Hasong Autonomous Council by April but the notification announcing the dates is expected only after January.
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today set up a committee, headed by senior legislator Bhumidhar Barman, to assure the restive Rabha groups that the government was pushing ahead to hold the elections after the three-phase panchayat polls end on February 12.
Rabha groups, who are not budging from their stand to hold the council polls first instead of the panchayat elections, want concrete dates for the poll by Monday.
State election commissioner Biren Dutta today told The Telegraph that all efforts were being made to hold the polls by April.
As part of the plan, the commission has directed the Kamrup and Goalpara deputy commissioners to complete the delimitation of the constituencies by March so that the elections could be held in April. After delimitation, the commission will finalise the votersí list.
There are altogether 779 villages in the council area, which is divided into 36 general member constituencies, 17 of which are in Kamrup and 19 in Goalpara.
Sources said the commission swung into action once governor J.B. Patnaik authorised it to complete the delimitation of the 36 constituencies for holding of the council polls at the earliest.
The Prithibi Majhi-headed cabinet sub-committee, set up to look into the election issue, had also last week recommended holding of polls by April, following almost regular protests by Rabha groups, leading to disruption in day-to-day activities in lower Assam.
Dispur had constituted the council in 1995 with 779 villages to protect the political rights of the Rabhas as well as improve their socio-economic condition in the two districts.
The government had also announced that elections to the council would be held within six months from the day of formation of the ad hoc body.
The Rabha groups have said if the dates for the polls are not announced they will not allow the holding of panchayat elections, which were not held in the council areas last time.
If the Rabhas are seeking elections, the Non-Rabha Security Forum is seeking panchayat elections in non-tribal pockets within the council area, besides exclusion of those villages in the council area where the tribal population is less than 50 per cent.
However, Rabha groups have asserted that Nath-Jogis, Bengalis, Gorkhas, Koch-Rajbongshis, Scheduled Castes, Kalitas, Bodos, tea tribes, the Garo Studentsí Union, Garo Sahitya Sabha and Garo Women Federation are supporting the council.
Congress insiders were confident that Rabha groups would allow the holding of panchayat elections if they are assured about the dates of the council elections.