March 31: Representatives of the Bodo community dwelling in north Bengal today announced that they would support Trinamul candidates in the Lok Sabha seats of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar if the party promised to introduce the tribe’s language Boro in schools.
In the Jalpaiguri seat, the percentage of Bodo voters is around 2 per cent and in Alipurduar it is between 3 and 4 per cent.
Siliguri, which is under the Darjeeling Lok sabha seat, has a few thousand Bodo residents, which makes their strength negligible in percentage.
The announcement to support Trinamul, Bodo leaders said, was made after a meeting in Satali bazaar in Kalchini, Alipurduar.
Communities like Bodo, Rava and Mech live in this part of the state among whom the Bodos are the largest in number.
There are organisations such as the Dulari Bodo Samaj, the Bodo Peoples’ Forum and the Bodo Sahitya Sabha, which function within the community.
“For several decades, the Bodos have been using Bengali in their education and for communication instead of their own language. In the coming Lok Sabha polls, we will support Trinamul but we have a rider that the state government will have to initiate moves to ensure that children of our community receive education in their mother tongue, not in Bengali,” Sabin Shaiba, the state secretary of the Bodo Sahitya Sabha, said.
“The state will have to assure that the demand would be implemented in a span of one year. Otherwise, we will hold another discussion and might change our decision (on supporting Trinamul),” Shaiba said.
Atul Subba, the observer of the Bodo Peoples’ Forum who is also a member of Jalpaiguri zilla parishad who has joined Trinamul from the Congress, said there are supporters of different political parties within their community
“However, considering the initiatives taken by the chief minister and the state government for development of tribals, the Bodo community has decided to support Trinamul in the Lok Sabha polls but with a condition,” Subba said.