The Bodoland People’s Front, an ally of the Congress in Assam, moved the Supreme Court on Sunday seeking postponement of voting in Tamulpur constituency after its candidate defected to the Bharatiya Janata Party, less than a week before polling for the seat, NDTV reported.
Bodoland People’s Front’s Rangja Khungur Basumatary joined the BJP on April 1, after the deadline for withdrawing nominations for voting in Tamulpur on April 6 was over. The Bodoland People’s Front and Congress had earlier approached the Election Commission on the matter, demanding suspension of polling. The Election Commission heard the matter on Saturday in the presence of the returning officer for the constituency, Sanjiv Sarma, but no decision has been announced so far, PTI reported quoting unidentified sources.
After Basumatary shifted loyalties, the Congress had said that he had gone missing for two days before joining the BJP, PTI reported. Then on March 31, Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted saying that Basumatary had expressed willingness to join the BJP after meeting him.
Meanwhile the Congress, on April 1, asked the Election Commission to check Basumatary’s call records and initiate an inquiry into the matter, according to PTI. BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary also wrote to the poll body on the same day, demanding cancellation of polling in Tamulpur and a First Information Report against Sarma and Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who were present when Basumatary joined the BJP, NDTV reported.
A day later, Mohilary wrote to the Election Commission again, seeking permission to change the party’s candidate in the constituency. In his second letter, Mohilary said that Basumatary had changed his allegiance “through illegal inducements including bribery”, and was not entitled to receive votes under the Bodoland People’s Front symbol, NDTV reported.
Then on Saturday night, the Congress wrote separately to the Election Commission seeking suspension of polling and action against Basumatary and Sarma. The Bodoland People’s Front eventually moved the Supreme Court on Sunday, two days ahead of scheduled polling in Tamulpur.
Basumatary has, however, told a local TV channel that he had decided to quit the Bodoland People’s Front as the party did not lend any helping hand to him to fund his campaign, according to PTI. He claimed that while he could not withdraw his nomination due to some technical reasons, he would be supporting Leho Ram Boro, the candidate fielded by BJP’s ally United People’s Party Liberal.
The Bodoland People’s Front was an ally of the BJP till recently, before the Mohilary-led outfit decided to join the Congress’ alliance a month before Assam polls. The development came after months of discord between the Bodoland People’s Front and the BJP, as four districts that came under the council were placed under the Governor’s rule after local polls, which were scheduled to take place in April, were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Once the polls eventually took place in December, the BJP chose to ally with the United People’s Party Liberal.