BJP-BPF alliance headed for split before Assam assembly elections

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Ahead of assembly polls in Assam next year, the partnership between ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and coalition partner Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) is headed for a split.

Both parties, which along with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) have been in power since 2016, are contesting next month’s polls to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) independently.

On Thursday evening, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, state BJP chief Ranjeet Kumar Dass and senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma left for New Delhi on a chartered flight to discuss the party’s strategy for the assembly polls.

The leaders will meet BJP national president JP Nadda on Friday, where a decision on separation from BPF is expected to be taken. Both BJP and AGP are expected to continue the alliance and contest the assembly polls scheduled in March-April together.

“Our partnership with BPF was only for five years and it won’t continue beyond that. We are contesting the BTC polls alone and will fight the assembly polls without alliance with BPF,” Himanta Biswa Sarma told journalists on Thursday.

BJP state chief Dass also stated that he wasn’t in favour of continuing the alliance with BPF and will convey the same to the party leadership. The final decision on the partnership will be taken in Delhi, he added.

“Whether we will stay with the BJP or join the Congress hasn’t been decided yet. Only after BTC polls are over, we will decide on partnerships for the assembly polls. It is for the BJP to decide whether they want to continue with us or not,” BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary told journalists on Thursday.

“We have heard about a meeting between JP Nadda and Assam BJP leaders, but have no clue what it is about. They (BJP) are a national party and it’s for them to decide whom they want to join hands with. BPF will emerge stronger if the partnership breaks,” he added.

BJP came to power in Assam for the first time in 2016 with the help of BPF. The regional party, which has a strong presence in the Bodo-dominated districts of Kokrajhar, Udalguri, Baksa and Chirang, has 12 MLAs and three ministers in the Sonowal cabinet. BJP (60) and AGP (14) have a total of 74 legislators in the 126-member assembly.

Differences between BJP and BPF intensified in March this year after polls to BTC, which was under the latter’s control, was postponed due to Covid-19 and the areas under the council were placed under governor’s rule. BPF wanted the tenure of the council extended till polls.

Election to BTC will be held in two phases next month and a bitter campaign between both parties is underway to take control of the council which has a total of 40 seats.

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