ULFA chief’s father-in-law set to contest civic polls

March 24th, 2010 - 6:38 pm ICT by IANS  

By Syed Zarir Hussain
Baganpara (Assam), March 24 (IANS) His son-in-law, ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa went into hiding for years to seek an independent Assam, but Prahlad Das doesn’t agree with him and is set to contest a local council election.

Das is an Independent candidate for next month’s elections to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) elections in Assam, while his daughter Kaberi Kachari Rajkonwar is the wife of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa.

“I am contesting the elections at the behest of the local people in my area,” Das told IANS.

He is contesting the Baganpara constituency in Baksa district, about 120 km west of Assam’s main city of Guwahati. Elections for the 40-member BTC, a politico-administrative structure set up after the signing of the Bodo Accord in 2003 between the central government and the now disbanded Bodoland Liberation Tigers, is scheduled for April 9.

“I have never discussed the issue of contesting elections with my daughter or with my son-in-law (Arabinda Rajkhowa),” Das said as he was busy holding election meetings in his constituency.

The contrast is evident - Kaberi is a staunch advocate of sovereignty or independence, a demand for which the ULFA has been waging a war since 1979.

“We want independence and there is nothing wrong in our demand for sovereignty,” Kaberi said.

But her father believes in the Indian constitution - he has just retired as a Block Development Officer of the Assam government.

“Do I still have to make my stand clear on the issue of sovereignty?” Das responded when asked if he supported ULFA’s demand - an answer that sets at rest all speculations that father and daughter differ on the issue of independence.

“Contesting the polls explains my position on the issue,” he said.

Locals in the area are asking if Kaberi would come to campaign for her father in the run-up to the polls.

“We don’t know if she would come for campaigning…maybe she would spice up the electioneering with her presence if she does so…people would be curious to see her campaign for her father,” said Dharani Das, a village elder.

Questions are also raised as to how the ULFA could convince the people of Assam or the government about their demand for sovereignty if the wife of the outfit’s chairman cannot convince her father about independence.

“When there is no consensus in the home front about sovereignty, why is the ULFA fighting for independence?” asked Biplab Das, another villager.

Consensus or not, Rajkhowa’s father-in-law is for the time being busy seeking votes to win the local elections.

“I am confident and with the blessings of the locals I am sure to win,” Das said.

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