Monday, November 28, 2022

UPPL –New Political Frontiers in Bodoland

During a pivotal point in the NE Region’s socio-political history, the United Peoples’ Party Liberal (UPPL) was founded as a political party to accomplish the goals and aspirations of the Bodo people. The BTC Accord of 2003, which granted Bodoland autonomy under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, raised the Bodo people’s aspirations for a socio-economic shift that would bring normalcy, communal harmony, and all-around development. Nonetheless, only a few years later, between 2008 and 2010, the region experienced violence, killings, and instability, culminating in a catastrophic loss of Bodoland’s societal fabric.
People felt unsafe due to the anarchy and disorder, casting doubt on the notion that the Constitution of India and the laws of the land were sufficient to protect every individual. The period was characterized by a growing gun culture that was exacerbated by the political leadership and bureaucracy’s flagrant contempt for the people’s sensibilities. The then-ruling Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF) reneged on development promises and community aspirations, with development becoming a meaningless phrase. The authoritarianism of the BPF leadership alienated the population from all aspects of Governance. This resulted in a decade and a half of misgovernance and pervasive corruption, which demoralized the people’s democratic spirit and destroyed the peaceful coexistence among the different communities, resulting in a period of serious communal violence. A portion of the intelligentsia with vested interests attempted to draw a false Lakshman Rekha between the Bodos and Non-Bodos, prolonging the conflict.
In this challenging and complex situation, it became imperative to investigate the sensitivity of the people in depth. The issue required an honest analysis and equally daring remedial political action. The new political party UPPL was created in 2015 by merging the BPPF and UPDF into one organisation, with the aim of uniting all sectors of Bodo society around a set of liberal ideas. Unavoidably, the foundation of a new Regional Party is beset by numerous hurdles. At a time when the monopolistic tendencies of the then-BTC Government threatened to strangle the essence of Bodo nationalism, the people sought an instant response. Consequently, the UPPL began its journey in 2015 as the vehicle for this collective voice to emphasize the grave and pressing concerns facing the Bodo community, such as socioeconomic advancement, governance, and the preservation of traditions and culture, among others. The founders of the UPPL advocated for a conflict-free and peaceful Bodoland, supported by the able assistance of a varied cross-section of persons and organizations. On the agenda was the reunification of Bodoland’s communities, linguistic divisions, and redressing damaged psyches and broken hearts. UPPL began unifying all parts of society through mutual love and respect, hence starting the process of tribal reconciliation. Additionally, it began re-evaluating development plans and development indices.
After assuming charge of BTC in December 2020, the UPPL-led alliance with the BJP and GSP began tackling development by conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the previous administration’s seventeen-year-long development initiatives, schemes, and expenditures. Our government produced a White Paper depicting a frightening prospect within a month. We inherited liabilities of Rs. 2,900 crores, incomplete major infrastructure projects, deteriorating educational institutions, and a dysfunctional Secretariat with numerous irregularities, among other issues. Governance was divorced from the realities on the ground, as indicated by massive gaps and the absence of important development data in any Department.
Nonetheless, we accepted this burden and launched a comprehensive system-wide redesign. During our first year and a half in power, we were able to construct a framework for holistic development in BTR, with the slogan “A Safe, Smart, and Green Bodoland” – integrating our Governance with the National Developmental Process and Agenda.
Three and a half million Bodoland residents are a primary priority for the administration led by the UPPL, which has identified the region’s most pressing needs and how to repair the people’s decades-long scars and suffering. As part of an effective Governance framework, we are migrating from a Zero Work Culture to a Work Culture, as well as from Zero Policy to Policy Making.
Our objectives are Peaceful Coexistence, Mutual Care, Education, Health Care, Sustainable Livelihoods, Effective Governance, and Timely Implementation of the BTR Accord 2020. To bring BTC districts up to par with their developed counterparts in the state and nation, the secondary purpose is to close the gap in all development sectors. Priorities also include industrialization and job creation for both skilled and unskilled populations. We are enhancing the livelihoods and social security infrastructure to address a variety of issues, including as reversing the negative consequences of protracted conflict and introducing healing and well-being programmes into the curriculum. Together with UNDP, we have developed the BTR Vision 2030 Report, which outlines the organization’s short-, medium-, and long-term development objectives by mapping them to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Peace and Stability are gradually contributing to the success of many of our government’s initiatives, as evidenced by the massive participation and success of programmes like the ISPL Football League 2022, Kokrajhar Literary Festival, Mission Mode Programmes, and numerous aspirational programmes like the BTR Super 50 for Civil Services and IIT/IIM Entrances, etc. The School Adoption Programme is a unique programme aiming to inspire individuals from all backgrounds to adopt regional schools. In order to strengthen and establish a Participative Framework for Governance and Development, we have formalised cooperation with national and international organisations such as UNICEF, UNDP, NECTAR, and others.
My purpose is not to confine UPPL to only winning and losing elections, but rather to promote a positive social revolution that would allow the people of BTR to live in peace, safety, and prosperity in the future. On the seventh anniversary of UPPL’s creation, we resolve to work in the coming days with sincerity, purpose, direction, and dedication.
Pramod Boro
(The author is President of UPPL and Chief Executive Member of the Bodoland Territorial Council)

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