Division bell rings in Congress camp over Bodoland stir

KOKRAJHAR: The demand for Bodoland has gained fresh momentum with several Congress workers from the Bodo heartland extending support to the All Bodo Student Union's cry for a separate state for the Bodos.

"Thousands of Bodoland Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) workers are supporting the All Bodo Students' Union (Absu) in the latter's movement for a separate state of Bodoland," BPCC chief Rajeswar Brahma said on Saturday. A section of Congress workers in the Bodo heartland has formed the BPCC as an alternative platform to raise the causes of the Bodos. It has, however, not got recognition from the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC).

"During the movement for Bodoland in the late Eighties, several Bodo leaders, including Absu members, became martyrs in their armed struggle. Considering the legitimate demand for a separate Bodoland in Assam, the Centre signed a peace accord and formed the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution," Brahma said. "The BTC, however, failed to deliver and could not ensure all-round development for the people of Bodoland. Several Congress workers have realized this and pledged to back Absu's movement," he added.

Brahma said, "We were surprised to see some Congress MLAs and ministers recommending creation of a separate Kamtapur state. They do not have knowledge about the BTC geographical area."

He added, "Several Congress MLAs in Andhra Pradesh resigned in support of a separate state. But in Assam, the Congress MLAs are silent on the Bodoland issue. Why is it so?"

According to sources, Brahma's comment may anger the Congress high command. "But BPCC leaders are ready to face any action," he added.

In the meantime, the Indian Confederation of Indigenous and Tribal People-NE zone (ICITP-NEZ), an umbrella organisation of 56 nationalist, indigenous and tribal people's organizations from the northeast, on Saturday iterated its support towards creation of a separate state of Bodoland.

Accusing the Congress government in the state and the BPF-ruled BTC of using money and muscle power, ICITP president Jebra Ram Muchahary said, "The Bodos cannot to achieve growth given the existing political system. The proposed Bodoland state should have representation from all ethnic communities. Otherwise, it will also fail like the BTC."