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Apr 11, 2011 at 07:41am IST

Assam: Bodo vote will be a crucial factor

New Delhi: Security measures have been stepped up for the final phase of polling in Assam. This vital phase of the state elections will decide whether the Congress will manage a third straight victory or be dethroned by the Opposition alliance.

496 candidates are in the fray for 64 out of the total 126 Assembly Constituencies. For the 64 seats, BJP is contesting in 58, Trinamool Congress has 58 while the Asom Gana Parishad has 53 candidates.

Over 96 lakh voters will be deciding the fate of the candidates in over 12,500 polling stations.

One of the crucial factors will be the Bodo vote. Apart from the violence by militant groups, it’s the political clashes within the Bodos which are an equal cause of worry and may just spell trouble for political parties claiming to be representing them.

Kokrajhar in lower Assam is the heart of the Bodo Territorial Council infamous for the presence of the violent militant group - the NDFB. But it’s not just them, even elected political representatives have blood on their hands.

Political clashes in Bodo-dominated areas in Assam is common knowledge, leaving many dead. Parties claiming to represent their people are seen to betray them. Consisting of about 35 per cent of the votes in these elections, the voters say it will respond with the ballot rather than the bullet.

58-year-old Nibashin Basumatary can barely make ends meet after her husband - a political worker was killed in clashes.

"It is difficult to decide which party to vote for when people belonging to Bodo parties are killing one another. I have lost faith. I will vote because its my duty,” said Nibashin Basumatary, victim's Wife.

The Bodo People's Front which is currently an ally of the Congress and heads the Bodo Territorial Council may face the public ire for unemployment and poverty. The opposing camp is the Bodo Progressive People's Front - believing themselves to be the true saviors. Amidst their politics, it's the likes of Tanuja Brahma who are getting crushed and confused.

"After my husband was killed, I got sick. I can’t talk about it, it makes me scared. If I talk more I will probably faint,” said Tanuja Brahma, victim's Wife.

Her husband - another political worker was hacked to death in front of her. Local politicians are quick to pass the buck.

"Bodo people have been misused by politicians and I blame Dispur politics for this, led by the Congress and its ally the BPF's Hagrama Mohilary,” said Robi Ram Narzary.

In a state riddled with separatist movements, locals say its saddest when a community turns against its own. And this time during elections, with parties split in different directions, it has left the voter more confused than ever.