Kokrajhar, June 26: The Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF) has pulled out of the Congress-led government in Assam after eight years of alliance, alleging Dispur’s failure to provide security to the people of BTAD and its “step-motherly attitude”.
The announcement was made by BPF president and Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) chief Hagrama Mohilary at the PWD guest house here after a meeting, which was attended by most party MLAs, Rajya Sabha MP Biswajit Daimary, BTC executive members and other senior leaders.
Mohilary has asked party MLAs holding portfolios in the state government (one minister and two parliamentary secretaries) to tender their resignations by tomorrow.
“We hoped to work for the all-round development of the BTAD region, including providing safety and security to the people, but failed as Dispur never gave importance to our voice despite us being an ally of the Congress in the state government,” Mohilary said.
“Extortion, killing and abductions have not declined in the BTAD which has affected the BPF very badly. It is meaningless to stay in the government as the ruling Congress has not been able to protect the life and property of the people in BTAD,” he added.
The decision is unlikely to affect the Tarun Gogoi government as the Congress has more than the required numbers in the 126-member House. The party has 77 MLAs while the BPF has 11.
The announcement comes within a week of chief minister Tarun Gogoi saying on June 21: “If anyone wants to go, how can I stop them?”
Gogoi was reacting to BPF secretary Prabin Boro’s statement made the previous day that the 2012 ethnic riots and the killings in the run-up to declaration of Lok Sabha results in May this year had put the alliance under strain.
The BPF and the Congress have been allies since 2006. The support of the BPF, which had 10 MLAs then, had helped the Congress form a stable government in the state for five years. The alliance continued in 2011 Assembly polls, when the Congress won 78 seats and the BPF 12.
The BPF, which rules the BTC, has a minister, Chandan Brahma, and two parliamentary secretaries Rakeshwar Brahma and Maneswar Brahma in the government at present. Chandan Brahma is the minister of state for transport and tourism.
The alliance, under strain for sometime, appeared to reach the snapping point when a section of Congress leaders alleged the role of BPF leaders in the violence in Kokrajhar and Baksa districts this May. At least 40 people were massacred by suspected NDFB (Songbijit) militants.
Asked if the BPF had withdrawn its support to the government because of dissidence in the Congress Legislature Party, Mohilary said, “It is not connected with the development in the Congress.”
Sources said the change of guard in Delhi only hastened the break-up. Mohilary had earlier hinted they would back any party which formed the government at the Centre.
Before the Lok Sabha polls the BJP had said it supports the demand for smaller states, something the BPF and other Bodo parties are pursuing diligently.
Mohilary said the BTC Accord needed to be amended vis-à-vis panchayati raj in the Sixth Schedule areas. He said the BTC had initially proposed the introduction of village council development committee in lieu of panchayati raj in the BTAD, as the latter did not apply in Sixth Schedule areas. But the Assam government had not given its approval to the proposal.
He now wants the accord to be amended so that panchayati raj can be introduced in the BTAD in order to avail its benefits. Mohilary hoped the July session of Parliament would make the amendments and added that it would also benefit Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong.
“This clearly shows that the BPF was getting close to the BJP,” a Congress insider said.
Mohilary also criticised the Congress for not allocating the annual funds according to population pattern (12.9 per cent). “We were allocated much less. We have been deprived of ST/SC/OBC development funds since 2005. We took up the matter with Dispur but to no avail. We were deprived on all fronts,” he said, adding that the BPF would put pressure on the government from outside for its demands.
Assam PCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita could not be contacted despite repeated attempts. The party’s chief spokesperson Mehdi Alam Bora declined to comment, saying the BPF’s alliance was with the government and not the party.
Gogoi’s aide Bharat Chandra Narah said the decision was along expected lines. “The tie-up had become a burden on the party because of the law and order issues in the BTAD, it did not help us,” he said, suggesting that no tears would be shed in the government or in the party on the break-up.
Ironically, it was the BPF which pulled the plug though Gogoi had single-handedly backed the alliance despite opposition from within the party and from minorities who “drifted away” from the Congress following the May riots.
Congress sources said there was pressure on Gogoi to drop the BPF minister and accommodate a Congressman given the demand for reshuffle of the council of ministers. They claimed there was a consensus in the Congress, following alleged dissidence by the BPF, to end the alliance.
Senior Congress MLA Anjan Dutta and Assam minister of state Siddique Ahmed had called for snapping of ties with the BPF after the May carnage.
“We welcome the development and request the chief minister to accept the BPF’s decision. The Congress wanted the alliance to end and we were putting pressure on the chief minister, who had assured us of calling it quits with the BPF. The alliance was affecting the Congress as non-Bodos were moving away from us because of law and order issues. We are sure the development will see non-Bodos return to the Congress fold. Our party too can start rebuilding in the BTAD,” Dutta told The Telegraph.