NEW DELHI: The elections to the 40 member Bodoland Territorial Council that were peaceful, despite the year of violence in the region, has thrown up surprising results. The Bodoland Peoples Front remained the favourite albeit with a reduced margin, winning just 20 seats in the final analysis. This places it short of a majority by one seat, and makes it a little more vulnerable with the newly formed Peoples Coordination for Democratic Rights (PCDR) racing in with a good seven seats.

PCDR is a conglomerate of Bodo and non Bodo parties and organisations, trying through its very composition to unite the people after a year that sought to polarise the ethnic communities through repeated incidents of violence.

The other newcomer to gain substantially in these elections is the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) led by Assam’s perfume baron Badruddin Ajmal who has opened his account here for the first time. The four winning candidates include two Bodos and two non-Bodos. The BJP, despite its high voltage Lok Sabha campaign has not done particularly well, winning one seat although this is a first for it as well.

The Congress party has factored itself out of these elections, winning not a single seat. The Tarun Gogoi government’s abject failure to protect the Bodoland villagers, and provide proper relief and rehabilitation has led to its virtual isolation. The Congress contested the elections on its own, and lost all the seats.

Bodoland is run by the ostensibly autonomous Bodoland Territorial Council that is charge of administering four districts here--Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri. It is a very poor and backward area, with militancy rampant. In the past one year several incidents of violence targeting Muslims and Adivasis have led to a high death toll, with entire villages being gutted by the attacking Bodo militants. Hundreds of villagers are displaced almost routinely in this belt because of the violence, with relief and rehabilitation measures not sufficient by any count.

The Tarun Gogoi government is thus extremely unpopular in Bodoland with no section of the residents supportive of the Congress. This time it fought the elections on its own and not in alliance with the BDF as in the past, and has been wiped out of the highly volatile and large tense area.

The BJP, Congress, Bodoland Peoples Front, AIUDF, Asom Gana Parisahd, Peoples Coordination for Democratic Rights and the Left parties are among the parties to have contested the elections.