The influential All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Progressive) in Assam have issued a virtual warning to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that the Bodo community would stop supporting the governments at the Centre and the state if it fails to take concrete steps for creation of Bodoland before the 2019 elections. However, both the Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF), an alliance partner in the BJP-led coalition in the state and the government sought to downplay the threat.
After the 2016 Assembly polls, with 60 legislators in the 126-member house in Assam, the BJP formed the government along with the Asom Gana Parishad that won 14 seats and the BPF— the lone Bodo political party — that bagged 12 seats.
The BPF said it will continue to support the BJP and stressed that a separate Bodoland was not an issue for it.
Accusing the BJP of making “false promises”, the ABSU and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Progressive), the first militant group to give up arms and join the peace process, have vowed to defeat the saffron party if it did not take concrete steps for a separate state for the Bodos before the 2019 polls.
However, ABSU president Pramod Bodo said the BJP had time till April 2019 to solve the Bodoland issue if it wants to get the support of the Bodo community.
“They (BJP) can expect the support of Bodos but only if they fulfil our demand of a separate Bodoland... They must take some concrete steps in this regard before April (2019),” Bodo told PTI. “They should stop mocking the genuine aspirations of the Bodos,” he added.
“Bodos consist of 12 per cent of Assam’s population but get only 3-4 per cent of the financial budget. No new industry has been set up and no new jobs have been created for the Bodo youths even now,” he said.
The demand for a separate state of Bodoland started in 1967 and the struggle became an armed conflict in the late 80s after the formation of the Bodo Security Force, a militant group later rechristened as NDFB.
The Bodo Territorial Area Districts comprising Kokrajhar, Udalguri, Baksa and Chirang has one Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha seats.
Bodo, who revived the Bodoland movement in 2016 alleging government’s “lack of interest”, said areas inhabited by the Bodos continue to remain neglected under the current BJP regime just like the previous Congress rule.