More than 70% of the 1,365,207 voters turned out for the first phase of the elections to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) in Assam on Monday. The elections to the 40-seat council have been billed as the “semi-final” before the 2021 Assembly polls, and its outcome could decide the fate of alliances. “By 3:30 pm, about 57% voters had cast their votes across 21 council constituencies in Baksa and Udalguri districts.We expect the final voting figure to be around 75% when the reports from remote centres come in by 9 pm or later,” State Election Commissioner Alok Kumar told The Hindu.Baksa and Udalguri are two of the four districts under the Bodoland Territorial Region governed by the BTC. The other two are Chirang and Kokrajhar where elections to 19 seats would be held on December 10.
The run-up to the BTC elections, the fourth since its creation in 2003, has been unusually peaceful.The voting too was incident-free barring a mild cane-charge outside a booth in Udalguri.
In all, 241 candidates are in the fraythat have a total of 23.82 lakh voters, including 11.79 lakh women and eight belonging to the third gender.The Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), which has been ruling the BTC since 2003, has fielded candidates in 37 seats and its rival United People’s Party Liberal in all 40. The Gana Suraksha Party headed by extremist-turned-independent MP Naba Kumar Sarania is contesting 35 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party 26, the Congress 13 and the All-India United Democratic Front seven.
The BPF rules Assam as one of the two minor partners of the BJP. But the two parties parted ways for the BTC polls, with the BJP aiming to eject the BPF and rule the third tribal council in the State after Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills councils.
The Congress and AIUDF had forged an alliance for the BTC polls.