Amid ongoing campaign for the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) elections, North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) convenor and Assam cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma took a potshot at the Congress and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF).

Lambasting Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Ripun Bora and AIUDF chief Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, Himanta Biswa Sarma said that two leaders are not relevant in the BTC elections.

“At this moment, Ripun Bora and Ajmal are not relevant for BTC elections. They are nowhere to be seen here,” Sarma said on Thursday in Udalguri district which falls under the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR).

In the run-up to the BTC polls, the senior BJP leader took part in a bike rally from Mazbat to Rowta in Udalguri.

Addressing the huge crowd at Rowta, Sarma vehemently criticized Hagrama Mohilary-led Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) for widespread corruption and anomalies in their three consecutive terms at the helm of power.

“We have to introduce Panchayatiraj system in the BTC areas. Then, poor section will be benefitted. Otherwise, we will always face deprivation and under-development,” Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

Sarma also raised his concern over the land rights of the residents in the BTR.

“In the last 15 years, the BPF government has exploited and deprived us. We have to form our own BTC government. There are no first and second class citizens in the BTC areas. Everyone should live a life of equality,” said Sarma.

Hagrama Mohilary-led Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) was ruling the BTC since its first election in 2005. BTC was formed in 2003.

Elections to the 40-member BTC will take place in two phases on December 7 and 10, and votes will be counted on December 12.

Altogether 72 candidates are in the fray for the 40- member Council whose term ended on April 27.

Nominees of Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), United Peoples Party Liberal (UPPL), Gana Suraksha Paryty (GSP), Congress, AIUDF and independent candidates have intensified their campaign to woo voters.

The Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) administered by the BTC has four districts – Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri.

For the BTC elections, the UPPL is contesting in all the 40 seats, BPF 37, GSP 35, BJP 26, Congress 13 and AIUDF 7.

The BTC polls were deferred on March 20 by the Assam State Election Commission due to the COVID-19 pandemic.