The Majoritarian Way to Democracy: The Bodoland Conflict in Assam

Publication Type:

Journal Article

Source:

Alternatives: Global, Local, Political (2018)

URL:

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0304375418757094

Keywords:

Assam, Bodoland, BTAD, conflict, Democracy, majoritarianism, NDFB

Abstract:

A minority group’s demand for a separate territory is usually understood as its protest against the majority rule in a democratic setup. While the minority’s demand for a separate territory is against the majority rule, it is certainly not against the principles of majoritarianism. In the process of resisting against the majority rule, the minority aspires to be seen as a majority in an exclusive territorial arrangement that it demands. In this case, the minority takes a majoritarian approach to achieve greater democratic rights. This can be called as majority–minority paradox in a democracy. The present article is an attempt to critically understand the Bodoland conflict in Assam; especially as to how the Bodos demand for an autonomous or separate territory on ethnic lines can be seen as a similarly majoritarian approach to democracy. The demand for a separate territory exclusively for the Bodos revolves around the concept of majoritarianism. This article finds a key contradiction in how majority rule is opposed and simultaneously majoritarianism is practiced by groups demanding a separate Bodoland. This article also investigates militant organizations that are allegedly fighting for the “Bodo” cause including the various factions of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland. It also seeks to investigate what happens to the democratic rights of non-Bodos in the majoritarian “minority” politics of the Bodoland Territorial Area District