Kokrajhar, March 26, 2020:
Lockdown amid COVID-19 has become a bone of contention between rival political leaders, United People’s Party Liberal’s (UPPL) Pramod Boro and Hagrama Mohilary, who heads the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).
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Pramod Boro has accused Hagrama Mohilary of violating the Clause 6 of the Election Model Code of Conduct by openly announcing relief packages for the daily wage laborers, including hand sanitizers, which have become an essential item amid COVID-19.
Hagrama on March 25 had announced that the BTC administration will provide essential materials like Dal, mustard oil, etc. to the daily wage earners of the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD). He said that a total of 5.5 lakh families will receive the essentials from the administration during the lockdown period of 21 days amid COVID-19.
Each of the 5.5 lakh families from BTAD will get about 25 kg rice, two kilos of Dal and 500 ml of mustard oil. While rice and dal will be distributed on Thursday, the families will get mustard oil later. He had also informed that about 10 lakh face masks and sanitizing steps are being taken to keep the BTC area and its people coronavirus-free.
UPPL’s Pramod Boro, in view of these, wrote to the Election Commisioner of Assam and stated, “Hagrama Mohilary, who is the BPF (Bodoland People’s Front) candidate for Debargaon and Kachugaon constituencies, on 25th of March 2020, through a press conference has openly announced new schemes to distribute free ration items such as 25 kg rice for each family, 5 kg lentils, oil, masks and hand sanitizers. This is a clear violation of Clause 6 of Election Model Code of Conduct. Additionally, this will lead to competition amongst vrious political parties to distribute such items resulting into chaos and defeating the very purpose of nationwide 21 days lockdown…”
Boro has urged the Election Commission to take appropriate, urgent and visible legal action against Mohilary. Additionally, the UPPL candidate has requested the commission to “prevent free distribution of such sops to woe voters for winning ensuing BTC election so that the election can be held in free and fair manner…”
It may be mentioned here that BTC election was to be held on April 4, 2020. Every party, alongwith the new members belonging to the disbanded National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), had prepared to sweep the elections. However, due to coronavirus, the elections were deferred until further notice.
UPPL and BPF had been in a cold war ever since the announcement of the BTC polls. Hagrama’s announcement of relief packages came at a time when the elections have been postponed, campaigning has been postponed and coronavirus terror is gaining momentum.
However, Boro, in his letter, added, “we will support relief measures undertaken by the Civil Administration devoid of any political influences at this hour of election. We, indeed, appeal Chief Secretary of Assam a nd Principal Secreatry of BTC to take ppropriate action to support poor and needy during the 21 days lockdown so that not a single person suffers due to the complete lockdown.”
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