ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Peace Accord, Fractured Identity, and the Rising Tide of Saffron

Understanding the Political Shift in Bodoland

The spontaneous joy and enthusiasm among the Bodo people, notwithstanding the recent Bodo Peace Accord signed on 27 January 2020, needs to be interrogated in the context of “fractured identity” of Bodos and a perennial trend of “demographic challenge” that the history of the area is embedded in. Moreover, the changing contours of electoral politics in the wake of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s rise in the north-east (referred here as the “rising tide of saffron”) need examination. It is pertinent to argue that the accord, under the pretext of fulfilling their demands, may herald an unprecedented shift in the electoral politics and identity assertions of the Bodos.

Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim about the third Bodo Peace Accord (27 January 2020) as the “final solution to the Bodo Statehood problem” (Balachandran 2020), the accord needs to be deliberated for the changes it has brought and the chall­enges it may elicit. This is the most ­recent among the three accords that the Bodo leaders have signed with the central government.1 To a considerable ­extent, the accord of 20202 carries a holistic app­roach, further consolidating the aut­onomy for the Bodos and institutionalising their identity on a wider scale. This recent accord proposes Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) in place of Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) of 2003. It proposes for modification in the territorial structure of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC). It does so by incl­uding contiguous Bodo villages of BTAD into its territory and excluding the non-Bodo villages from its jurisdiction. On the other hand, provision for a development council has also been made for the Bodos living outside the BTR. The accord promises to augment powers of the BTC, address issues relating to Bodos residing outside BTAD, promote and protect the political, social, cultural and ethnic iden­tities of Bodos, legally secure land rights of tribal and ensure accelerated developments of the tribal areas (MoS 2020).

The accord of 2020 is expected to be the foundation for a sustainable resolution to the Bodoland statehood movement (Sharma 2020). The nature of the accord vis-à-vis the sociocultural, poli­tical, economic, and educational demands brings much joy and enthusiasm among the Bodos. However, the accord also needs to be studied in context of the “dem­o­graphic challenge”3 that Bodo­land is embedded in. Moreover, the changing contours of electoral politics in the wake of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) rise in the north-east in its own right need examination. The accord, under the pretext of fulfilling their demands, may herald an unprecedented shift in the electoral politics and identity assertions of the Bodos.

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Updated On : 15th Aug, 2022
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