Traces of Bodo-Immigrant clashes seen in the Panchayat Elections in Assam
In the recently concluded Panchayat elections in Jonai constituency in Assam, the allied force of Gana Shakti has come out as a force to be reckoned with, by being able to win a large number of seats. The Jonai constituency comes under the North Lakhimpur Lok Sabha Constituency. Incidentally, Jonai constituency has an ex-AGP converted into Congress MLA named Mr. Pradhan Barua, who took over the reins from Mr. Bhuban Pegu who has the distinction of being the youngest MLA in the history of Assam when he won the MLA elections in 2006.
Gana Shakti, though led by members of the Takam Mising Porin Kebang, has a considerable number of people from other communities. It was established as a party, as an attempt to form a coalition force to fight against the other major political parties in the Mising dominated region of Jonai. A major victory for this coalition was the election of Bhuban Pegu as MLA in 2006 Assembly elections. But unfortunately, they faced a crushing defeat in the last elections in 2011, with Pradan Barua being elected as the MLA. ‘Many’ thought that this could be the end of this coalition. But the overwhelming victory of the Gana Shakti led candidates in the Panchayat elections has made many think and re-organize their political strategies.
Ask anyone and they shall reply that the Bodo Vote in the Jonai constituency is one of the major deciding factors for the victory of any representative. Historically they have always been united in their voting behavior, which they maintain still today. The Misings have a very diverse voting pattern with most of it votes being split between major political parties and Gana Shakti. Traditionally, the Bodos are known for voting for the Congress party. But this time there has been a radical change with almost everyone rooting for the Gana Shakti candidates. The results can be clearly seen. On conversing with a few people (both Bodos and Misings), I came to know the reason behind. And the reason is intriguing.
The Bodos living in Jonai, though not impacted physically by the recent Bodo-immigrant clashes in Lower Assam, has a major feeling of solidarity towards them. They are pained by the sufferings there fellow men had to undergo in the clashes. They believe that the problem of Illegal immigration is being perpetuated by the ruling congress party in the name of ‘secularism’. Had the congress party taken stern action against the illegal immigrants, the clashes could have been avoided. Thus, the Bodos living in the Jonai area has decided to boycott the congress. The Misings of course are very happy with the ‘developments’ and hope to capitalize on it in the coming assembly elections too.
(With inputs from the ground. Pic courtesy: Gamuk Kutum)