Himanta indicates no Bodoland polls before December

Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on September 25 indicated that elections for Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), which were announced for April but has to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are unlikely to take place before December.

Addressing a press conference in Guwahati, Sarma said: “From the Health department, we have informed the State Election Commission that there can be no elections before November 30. Our team will observe how the Bihar state polls are held, and depending on that, we may take a call, but not before December.”

He said the chief minister is scheduled to hold an all-party meeting over the poll issue soon and discuss the matter with all concerned.

On implementation of the Bodo accord signed in January this year, Sarma said measures are being adopted to take it forward and Union home minister Amit Shah had a detailed discussion on it with Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal when the latter had met Shah at New Delhi on September 20, in which Sarma was also present.

As per the accord, Assam governor has approved the re-naming of Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts, consisting of the four districts of Chirang, Baksa, Kokrajhar and Udalguri, as Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR).

The minister further said a four-member committee has been formed for implementation of another clause of the accord under which villages with over 50% Bodo population excluded from BTR can approach for inclusion under the Region, while villages with more than 50% non-Bodo inhabitants can apply for exclusion.

“These villages, whether for exclusion or inclusion, have to be on the peripheries of the BTR,” he added.

The committee will also recommend on increasing the number of seats in the BTC from 40 to 60 as well as delimitation of the constituencies, he said.

Sarma also said work on declaration of Bodo language as additional official language and formation of Bodo Kachari Welfare Council, as per the accord, will also start within a month.

“We shall be taking measures for implementation of the accord in a phased manner,” he added.

The current Bodo accord was signed between Government of India, Government of Assam and Bodo organisations, which consisted of All Bodo Students Union (ABSU), United, Bodo People’s Organisation and all factions of National Democratic Front of Bodoland.

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