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In Lower Assam, BJP’s Best Hope Is Votes Of BPF

The BJP had spent much of its strength in the Assam Assembly elections in the 64 seats of Upper Assam and some parts of Barak Valley that went to the polls on April 4. For the second phase, on April 11, it has put much of its faith in the coalition it has formed with the Bodo People's Front (BPF), a party representing the interests of the Bodos, which is a critical factor in at least 30 seats in areas in Lower Assam and around the northern bank of the Brahmaputra.

The BPF had in the past been briefly in alliance with the BJP, but largely supported the Congress, including the Tarun Gogoi government in 2011 with its 12 MLAs. “We walked away because Mr. Gogoi, despite having us as an ally and having a Congress government at the Centre, was unable to address any of the issues related to us," said party chief Hagrama Mohilary.

“When we met [Prime Minister] Modiji, we were assured that our demands will be conceded," Mr. Mohilary said. Chief among these demands is the recognition of the Bodos in the Karbi Anglong and North Cachar hills as Scheduled Tribes, an economic and educational package and lately, higher compensation for those killed or wounded in the Bodo-Muslim riots four years ago.

“We have been told that a Cabinet note has been moved on the ST status issue, and Smriti Irani ji has also assured us that the Central Technology Institute in Kokrajhar will get university status soon."

He brings in some comfort of numbers in Lower Assam for the BJP that goes to the polls hampered by the fact that there are at least 35 minority dominated seats out of a total of 117 where it cannot hope to win.

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