Explains: Why the results of local polls in Assam matter to BJP

Written by Abhishek Saha, published by Explained Desk | Guwahati |

Updated: December 24, 2020, 4:15:59 p.m.

The Union’s Interior Minister, Amit Shah, with the Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal (L), in New Delhi in August 2019. (Express Photo Renuka Puri)

Compared to its previous performance, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has made notable gains in two important local elections in Assam this month. The results of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and the Tiwa Autonomous Council (TAC) Surveys should be the harbinger of political trends before the state elections next year.

What are these two councils?

The BTC, an autonomous, self-governing body under the sixth timetable of the constitution, consists of the districts of Kokrajhar, Baksa, Udalguri and Chirang. Elections to 40 BTC seats were held on December 7th and 10th.

The TAC is a legal autonomous council formed under state law and encompassing parts of Kamrup (Metro), Morigaon, Nagaon and Hojai districts. The polls on the 36-person TAC took place on December 17th.

Such councils have the power to legislate on a wide variety of topics in their areas of responsibility and aim to expedite the welfare and development activities of the planned tribal communities in the state.

How do this year’s results compare to the previous elections?

In the 2015 BTC election, the Bodo People’s Front (BPF) won 20 seats and came to power, and the BJP only got one seat. The BPF is one Ally of the BJP in the state government. That year the BPF won 17 seats – the highest number of seats any party won individually. However, the BJP did not allied with the BPF, against which it had fought loudly, and formed the government alliance with the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL).

In the TAC, Congress won 15 in 2015, while the BJP only won three and the AGP won two. This time, the BJP won the TAC polls with 33 seats, while Congress won one and AGP, an ally of the BJP in the state government, won two seats.

📣 JOIN NOW 📣: The Express Explained Telegram Channel

Baksa: Supporters of the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) celebrate after forming their government in an alliance with the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) in Kathalbari in the Baksa district of Assam (PTI).

What is the meaning of the two results?

The BTC results signal the arrival of the BJP in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) – this time from one seat to nine. The Bodo Accords, which are set to usher in a new era of peace and development in the conflict-ridden BTR, signed earlier this year, also appear to have generated political gains for the BJP. Whether the BTC results mark the beginning of the political end of BPF boss Hagrama Mohilary, who is an influential Bodo politician, and how the UPPL-BJP alliance will fare in next year’s state elections remains to be seen.

The TAC elections were also important to the BJP – from three last time to 33 this year. Ranjit Dass, president of the BJP, told The Indian Express it was “an important victory”. Although the BJP had only won three times last time, it had swayed the council: Former Chief Executive Member (CEM) Paban Manta is now a BJP member. The CEM before Manta, Ramakanta Deuri, is now a BJP MLA.

In early 2020, the BJP in Assam faced severe setbacks in implementing the Citizenship Law (Amendment). Several influential groups and political parties believe the law is detrimental to the interests of Assam’s indigenous communities. The two victories show how the BJP managed to influence voters in these areas despite this opposition.

BJP leaders and supporters celebrate their victory on counting day of the Tiwa Autonomous Council (TAC) elections in Nagaon District (PTI).

What do the results mean for the Congress?

The Council’s two polls point to a difficult time for Congress. Sajal Kumar Sinha, the sole congressional winner in the BTC elections, has joined the BJP. The party has a seat in the TAC polls.

The results follow the death of the experienced Chairman of the Assam Congress and three-time Prime Minister Tarun Gogoi. For the upcoming state elections, Congress is planning a large alliance against the BJP. It has allied itself with the AIUDF, led by MP and perfume baron Badruddin Ajmal.

But there is also speculation that several congress leaders might switch to the BJP. One of the names making the rounds in the state in this regard is that of Ajanta Neog, the Golaghat congressional MLA. Congress has removed Neog, a former minister, from an important organizational position.

📣 The Indian Express is on the telegram now. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay up to date on the latest news headlines

Download the Indian Express App for the latest explained news.

© Indian Express (P) Ltd.