India has dozens of national and regional political parties. National political parties include the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), National Congress Party (Congress (I) Party), Biju Janata Dal, Communist Party of India (CPI), and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM). In addition, there are several important regionally-based political parties, including Telugu Desam, All India Anna Dravida Munetra Kazhagam, Dravida Munetra Kazhagam, Akali Dal, and Samajwadi Janta Dal. [Source: Cities of the World, Gale Group Inc., 2002, adapted from a January 1997 U.S. State Department Post report]

India has what has been described as having a “a vigorous electorate" with nearly 50 competitive political parties, many of which are strictly regional. The two leading national parties — the BJP and the India National Congress — typically capture half of the votes cast. The third and fourth parties are usually way behind, with each only accounting for 5 percent of the vote nationwide. [Source: Robert S. Robins, Governments of the World: A Global Guide to Citizens' Rights and Responsibilities, Thomson Gale, 2006]

Parties on the left, right, and center have divided or split off over the years, while the number of single state linguistic, sectarian, and regional parties has risen. The latter are capable of governing only at the state level but available for coalition building. As of 2006, 19 political parties held seats in the People's Assembly. Leading parties in 2006 were Congress with 145 seats, the BJP with 138 seats, and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) with 43 seats. [Source: Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations, Thomson Gale, 2007]

Current Political Parties and Their Leaders

Aam Aadmi Party or AAP led by Arvind KEJRIWAL
All India Trinamool Congress or AITC led by Mamata BANERJEE
Bahujan Samaj Party or BSP led by MAYAWATI
Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP led by Jagat Prakash NADDA
Biju Janata Dal or BJD led by Naveen PATNAIK [Source: [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2023]

Communist Party of India (CPI) CPI (M)
Communist Party of India-Marxist or CPI(M) led by Sitaram YECHURY
Dravida Munnetra Khazhagam led by Muthuvel Karunanidhi STALIN
Indian National Congress or INC led by Mallikarjun KHARGE
Nationalist Congress Party or NCP led by Sharad PAWAR
Rashtriya Janata Dal or RJD led by Lalu Prasad YADAV
Samajwadi Party or SP led by Akhilesh YADAV
Shiromani Akali Dal or SAD led by Sukhbir Singh BADAL

Shiv Sena or SS led by Uddhav THACKERAY
Telegana Rashtra Samithi or TRS led by K. Chandrashekar RAO
Telugu Desam Party or TDP led by N. Chandrababu NAIDU
YSR Congress or YSRCP or YCP led by Y.S. Jaganmohan REDDY

Indian National Congress

In various forms, the left-of-center Indian National Congress (INC) controlled the government of India for most of the years after independence in 1947. Founded in 1885, the Indian National Congress, known after 1947 as the Congress Party (CP), was the most powerful mass movement in the fight for independence in British India. It became the ruling party of independent India due to its national popularity and because most leaders of the independence movement — including India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru — belonged to it. [Source: Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations, Thomson Gale, 2007 ++]

The Indian Congress Party was the party of Indian icons such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Indira Gandhi. It dominated politics of India through the first 44 years of Indian independence until it was defeated in general elections in 1996 by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Through it evolution, the Congress Party spawned many offshoots, often for personal reasons rather than policy matters. The first to do so was the socialist wing that split off shortly after independence to form a party in its own right, dividing again several times thereafter.

The Indian Congress Party has traditionally been regarded as a leftist party and defender of Indian secularism and the ideal that India is a place in which people from different religions, castes and ethnic groups can live together in harmony. It has traditionally been ruled by the upper classes and has had strong support from Muslims, Christians and members of the lower classes.

Over the years the Congress Party has developed a reputation of being corrupt and insensitive to the needs of its traditional supporters. It has been abandoned by many many members to lower castes parties and even the BJP, some of whom have been stirred by anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) translates to Indian People's Party. It is one of the two major Indian political parties along with the Indian National Congress. Since 2014, it has been the ruling political party in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The BJP is aligned with right-wing politics, and its policies adhere to Hindutva, a Hindu nationalist ideology. It has close ideological and organisational links to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) volunteer paramilitary organisation. As of September 2023, it is the country's biggest political party in terms of representation in the Parliament of India as well as state legislatures. [Source: Wikipedia]

The BJP is unique among India's political parties in that neither it nor its political predecessors were ever associated with the Congress. Instead, it grew out of an alternative nationalist organization — the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS — National Volunteer Organisation). The BJP still is affiliated with the network of organizations popularly referred to as the RSS family.

The RSS is a powerful Hindu fascist, supremacist movement linked with the BJP and made up of around three dozen social. educational, cultural and political organizations and 48,000 “shakas”, or local chapters, in the early 2000s. RSS members say that their goal is to create ideal Hindu citizens. They look back on the Muslim-Mogul and British periods as a source of humiliation.

Hindu Nationalist Political Parties

Early far-right parties included the Hindu Mahasabha (HMS), condemned to infamy after one of its members assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. Even so the HMS’s existence reflected that Hindu nationalist views were present and strain that has seen several party iterations in the years since.

Hindu nationalism became a force to contend with when the BJP began to gain popularity after bringing together various strains of the Hindu nationalist movement into an "allIndia" coalition party in 1980. By the early 1990s, the BJP has emerged as India's largest opposition party, and led a ruling coalition from 1998 to 2004. [Source: Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations, Thomson Gale, 2007]

There are no declared Hindu nationalist political parties at present in India. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is now considered a center-right political party. Former Hindu National parties include: 1) Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the precursor of the BJP; 2) theAkhil Bharatiya Ram Rajya Parishad and 3) the Bharatiya Janshakti Party, both of which merged with the BJP.

Some of the Regional Hindu Nationalist Parties:
Bangali Nabanirman Sena (Assam)
Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (Kerala)
Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) (Maharashtra)
Shiv Sena (Maharashtra)
Hindu Samhati (West Bengal)
Hindu Makkal Katchi (Tamil Nadu)
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (Maharashtra)

Communist Parties in India

India is home to significant communist political parties: 1) the Communist Party of India (CPI) CPI (M), with two seats out of 543 in Lok Sabha (the main parliament in India) in 2023 and two seats out of 245 in the Rajya Sabha (the less powerful upper house of India’s parliament); and 2) the Communist Party of India-Marxist or CPI(M) led by Sitaram Yechury, which has three seats in the Lok Sabha and five in the Rajya Sabha in 2023. In 2017, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) was the tenth largest party in the Lok Sabha with nine seats (1.66 percent of the total seats,

The Communis Party of India (Marxist) is the largest leftist party. It has done better in the past, winning 43 seats in the 2004 election. The Communis Party of India (CPI), is the second largest leftist party. It won 19 seats in the 2004 election. The Indian Communist party won eats in Parliament in 1952 and 1957. In 1957, the state of Kerala elected a Communist government. After civil disorder, the federal legislature took over its government. A non Communist coalition was elected in 1960.

The Communist Party of India (CPI) has its origins in the peasants and workers parties of the past. It began the independence period after 1947 in a bad place because of its Soviet-directed cooperation with the British during World War II. Communist rallies have traditionally featured shouts of "Comrade, Comrade" and hammer-and-sickle banners. [Source: Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations, Thomson Gale, 2007]

Communists have run the state governments in Kerala and West Bengal. A faction of India's Communist Party has ruled West Bengal for more than 20 years beginning in 1977.West Bengal state is home to over 100 million people and Kolkata (Calcutta). It has traditionally been a stronghold of the Communist Party. In Calcutta, Shakespeare lane was renamed Ho Chi Minh Sarani. Calcutta at one time was filled with communist parties that fought among themselves with home made bombs and pistols made from pipes that fires shotgun shells. The Communist Party in West Bengal has often clashed with the Trinamool Congress parry.

Communists in India include reformists in West Bengal and ideologues in Delhi. The Communist parties there have copied Chinese-style reforms in the states they have governed. They welcome foreign investment and say that an anti-globalization policy is unrealistic in the modern world. In the late 1990s, the strength of rightist parties pushed the Communists towards the center. Some factions of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) remained Communist only in name.

History of the Communist Parties in India

The Communist Party of India (CPI) was founded on December 26, 1925, at an all-India conference held at Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, in late December 1925 and early January 1926. Communists participated in the independence struggle and, as members of the Congress Socialist Party, became a formidable presence on the socialist wing of the Indian National Congress. They were expelled from the Congress Socialist Party in March 1940, after allegations that the communists had disrupted party activities and were intent on coopting party organizations. Indeed, by the time the communists were expelled, they had gained control over the entire Congress Socialist Party units in what were to become the southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. Communists remained members of the Indian National Congress although their support of the British war effort after the German invasion of the Soviet Union and their nationalist policy supporting the right of religious minorities to secede from India were diametrically opposed to Congress policies. As a result, the communists became isolated within the Congress. After independence, communists organized a peasant uprising in the Telangana region in the northern part of what was to become Andhra Pradesh. The uprising was suppressed only after the central government sent in the army. Starting in 1951, the CPI shifted to a more moderate strategy of seeking to bring communism to India within the constraints of Indian democracy. In 1957 the CPI was elected to rule the state government of Kerala only to have the government dismissed and President's Rule declared in 1959. [Source: Library of Congress, 1995*]

In 1964, in conjunction with the widening rift between China and the Soviet Union, a large leftist faction of the CPI leadership, based predominantly in Kerala and West Bengal, split from the party to form the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI (M). The CPI (M)-led coalition victory in the 1967 West Bengal state elections spurred dissension within the party because a Maoist faction headed a peasant rebellion in the Naxalbari area of the state, just south of Darjiling (Darjeeling). The suppression of the Naxalbari uprising under the direction of the CPI (M)-controlled Home Ministry of the state government led to denunciations by Maoist revolutionary factions across the country. These groups — commonly referred to as Naxalites — sparked new uprisings in the Srikakulam region of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and other parts of West Bengal. In 1969 several Naxalite factions joined together to form a new party — the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) — CPI (M-L). However, pursuit of insurrectionary tactics in the face of harsh repression by the government along with an array of ideological disputes kept Naxalite factions isolated in their local bases.*

In the 1990s, the CPI (M) enjoys the most political strength of any communist group. Nationally, its share of the vote has gradually increased from 4.2 percent in 1967 to 6.7 percent in 1991, but it has largely remained confined to Kerala, Tripura, and West Bengal. In Kerala the CPI (M) in coalition with other parties wrested control from the Congress and its allies (frequently including the CPI) in 1967, in 1980, and in 1987. Support for the CPI (M) in Kerala in general elections has ranged from 19 percent to 26 percent, but the party has never won more than nine of Kerala's twenty seats in Parliament. From 1977 to 1989, the CPI (M) dominated Tripura's state government. It won two parliamentary seats in 1971, 1980, and 1984, but it lost all of its seats in 1977, 1989, and 1991. In West Bengal, the CPI (M) has ruled the state government with a coalition of other leftist parties since 1977, and, since that time, the party has also dominated West Bengal's parliamentary delegation. As of the 1990s, support for the CPI was more evenly spread nationwide, but it was weak and in decline. The CPI share of the parliamentary vote has more than halved from 5.2 percent in 1967 to 2.5 percent in 1991.*

In 1982 a CPI (M-L) faction entered the parliamentary arena by forming the Indian People's Front. In the 1989 general elections, the front won a parliamentary seat in western Bihar, and in 1990 it won seven seats in the Bihar legislative assembly. However, the Indian People's Front lost its parliamentary seat in the 1991 parliamentary elections when its vote in Bihar declined by some 20 percent.*

Caste-Based Political Parties in India

One irony of Indian politics is that its modern secular democracy has enhanced rather than reduced the political salience of traditional forms of social identity such as caste. Part of the explanation for this development is that India's political parties have found the caste-based selection of candidates and appeals to the caste-based interests of the Indian electorate to be an effective way to win popular support. More fundamental has been the economic development and social mobility of those groups officially designated as Backward Classes and Scheduled Castes. Accounting for 52 and 15 percent of the population, respectively, the Backward Classes and Scheduled Castes, or Dalits as they prefer to be called, constitute a diverse range of middle, lower, and outcaste groups who have come to wield substantial power in most states. Indeed, one of the dramas of modern Indian politics has been the Backward Classes and Dalits' jettisoning of their political subordination to upper castes and their assertion of their own interests. [Source: Library of Congress, 1995*]

The Backward Classes are such a substantial constituency that almost all parties vie for their support. For instance, the Congress (I) in Maharashtra has long relied on Backward Classes' backing for its political success. The 1990s have seen a growing number of cases where parties, relying primarily on Backward Classes' support, often in alliance with Dalits and Muslims, catapult to power in India's states. Janata Dal governments in Bihar and Karnataka are excellent examples of this strategy. An especially important development is the success of the Samajwadi Party, which under the leadership of Mulayam Singh Yadav won the 1993 assembly elections in India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, relying almost exclusively on Backward Classes and Muslim support in a coalition with the Dalit-supported BSP.*

The growing support of the BSP also reflects the importance of caste-based politics and the assertiveness of the Dalits in particular. The BSP was founded by Kanshi Ram on April 13, 1984, the birthday of B.R. Ambedkar. Born as a Dalit in Punjab, Kanshi Ram resigned from his position as a government employee in 1964 and, after working in various political positions, founded the All-India Backward, Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, Other Backward Classes, and Minority Communities Employees Federation (BAMCEF) in 1978. Although both the BAMCEF and BSP pursue strategies of building support among Backward Classes, Scheduled Tribes, and Muslims as well as Dalits, Kanshi Ram has been most successful in building support among the Dalit Chamar (Leatherworker) caste in North India. In the November 1993 Uttar Pradesh state elections, Ram's BSP achieved the best showing of any Dalit-based party by winning sixty-seven seats. At the same time, the BSP increased its representation in the Madhya Pradesh state legislature from two to twelve seats. On June 1, 1995, the BSP withdrew from the state government of Uttar Pradesh and, with the support of the BJP, formed a new government, making its leader, Mayawati, the first Dalit ever to become a chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. The alliance, however, was seen by observers as doomed because of political differences.*

Bahujan Samaj Party and Dalit Political Parties

Dalits (Untouchables) have been able to exert the power of their numbers in elections. No great unifying leader for the Dalits has emerged since Ambedkar but they do have their own political organizations. The Dalit political movement is largely fractured state by state. Often the greatest power is exerted by small grassroots movement scattered around India that take on Dalit challenges one village at a time. They are often involved in teaching skills and helping people to better their lives. “Barefoot lawyers” are helping victims of illegal discrimination. Important issues include bringing of roads, water pumps and electricity to villages with large numbers of Dalits.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is a lower caste party founded by and for Dalits. Powerful in the populous state of Uttar Pradesh, at one time controlled the government there, it prospered for a while using a system of “vote banks,” in which things like water pumps, free electricity and free school books were brought to poor communities in return for votes.. The BSP’s symbol is a blue elephant. The Janata Dal is a lower caste party in Bihar. Martin Macwan and the Gujarat Navsaran Trust has been active in getting anti-discrimination laws enforced and drawing international attention to the Dalit issue.

The Samajwadi (Socialist) Party represents lower caste and Muslim voters in Uttar Pradesh. It has led a coalition there and has won voters with slogans like “electricity, power, water, plus health” and promises to abolish hospital bed and senior high school fees and raise teacher salaries and civil service pensions.

Regional Political Parties in India

Given India's social, cultural, and historical diversity, it is only natural that regional parties play an important role in the country's political life. Because of India's federal system, state assembly votes are held in an electoral arena that often enables regional parties to obtain power by espousing issues of regional concern. Simultaneously, the single-member district, first-past-the-post electoral system has given the advantage to national parties, such as the Congress, which possess a realistic chance of gaining or retaining power at the national level and the opportunity to use central government resources to reward their supporters. [Source: Library of Congress, 1995*]

Although regional parties have exercised authority at the state level, collectively they receive only from 5 to 10 percent of the national vote in parliamentary elections. Only during the governments of the Janata Party (1977-79) and the National Front (1989-90) have they participated in forming the central government. However, as India's party system becomes more fragmented with the decline of the Congress (I), the regional parties are likely to play an important role at the national level.*

Celebrity often plays a part in regional India politics. After three decades of Congress rule, the politics of Andhra Pradesh during the 1980s became dominated by a charismatic film star who stressed regional issues. In 1982 N.T. Rama Rao (popularly known as N.T.R.), an actor who frequently played Hindu deities in Telugu-language films, formed the Te-lugu Desam. The party ruled the state from 1983 to 1989. It also won thirty of Andhra Pradesh's forty-two parliamentary seats in 1984. With the objective of enhancing Andhra Pradesh's regional autonomy, N.T.R. played a key role in the formation of the National Front coalition government in 1989. However, in the 1989 elections, the Telugu Desam won only two parliamentary seats and lost control over the state government to the Congress (I). It was able to improve its showing to thirteen seats in Parliament in the 1991 elections. The Telugu Desam returned to power in Andhra Pradesh after winning the state legislative assembly elections in November 1994.*

Regional Political Parties in Tamil Nadu

Regional political parties have been strongest in Tamil Nadu, where they have dominated state politics since 1967. Regional parties in the state trace their roots to the establishment of the Justice Party by non-Brahman social elites in 1916 and the development of the non-Bhraman Self-Respect Movement, founded in 1925 by E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker. As leader of the Justice Party, in 1944 Ramaswamy renamed the party the Dravida Kazhagam (DK — Dravidian Federation) and demanded the establishment of an independent state called Dravidasthan. [Source: Library of Congress, 1995*]

In 1949, charismatic film script writer C.N. Annadurai, who was chafing under Ramaswamy's authoritarian leadership, split from the DK to found the DMK in an attempt to achieve the goals of Tamil nationalism through the electoral process. The DMK dropped its demand for Dravidasthan in 1963 but played a prominent role in the agitations that successfully defeated attempts to impose the northern Indian language of Hindi as the official national language in the mid-1960s. The DMK routed the Congress in the 1967 elections in Tamil Nadu and took control of the state government. With the deterioration of Annadurai's health, another screen writer, M. Karunanidhi, became chief minster in 1968 and took control of the party after Annadurai's death in 1969.*

Karunanidhi's control over the party was soon challenged by M.G. Ramachandran (best known by his initials, M.G.R.), one of South India's most popular film stars. In 1972 M.G.R. split from the DMK to form the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). Under his leadership, the AIADMK dominated Tamil politics at the state level from 1977 through 1989. The importance of personal charisma in Tamil politics was dramatized by the struggle for control over the AIADMK after M.G.R's death in 1988. His widow, Janaki, herself a former film star, vied for control with Jayalalitha, an actress who had played M.G.R.'s leading lady in several films. The rivalry allowed the DMK to gain control over the state government in 1989. The AIADMK, securely under the control of Jayalalitha, who was cast as a "revolutionary leader," recaptured the state government in 1991. However, since 1980, the Congress (I), usually in alliance with the AIADMK, has won a majority of Tamil Nadu's seats in Parliament.*

Sikh Political Parties and the Punjab

The Akali Dal (Eternal Party) claims to represent India's Sikhs, who are concentrated primarily in Punjab. It was first formed in the early 1920s to return control of gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship) to the orthodox Sikh religious community. During the 1960s, the Akali Dal played an important role in the struggle for the creation of Punjab as a separate state with a Sikh majority. [Source: Library of Congress, 1995*]

Even with the majority Sikh population, the Akali Dal's political success has been limited by the Congress's ability to win votes from the Sikh community. The Akali Dal won nine of Punjab's thirteen parliamentary seats in the general elections of 1977 and seven in 1984 but only one in the 1971 and 1980 elections. Similarly, the Akali Dal headed coalition state governments in 1967 and 1977 and formed the state government in 1985, but it lost state government elections to the Congress (R) in 1972, and to Congress (I) in 1980 and in 1992.

As the 1980s progressed, the Akali Dal became increasingly factionalized. In 1989 three Akali Dal factions ran in the elections, winning a total of seven seats. The Akali Dal factions boycotted parliamentary and state legislative elections that were held in February 1992. As a result, voter turnout dropped to 21.6 percent, and the Congress (I) won twelve of Punjab's thirteen seats in Parliament and a majority of seats in the legislative assembly.*

Political Parties in Kashmir

The National Conference, based in Jammu and Kashmir, is a regional party, which, despite its overwhelmingly Muslim following, refused to support the All-India Muslim League (Muslim League — see Glossary) during the independence movement; instead it allied itself with the Indian National Congress. The National Conference was closely identified with its leader, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, a personal friend of Nehru, and, after Abdullah's death in 1982, with his son, Farooq Abdullah. [Source: Library of Congress, 1995*]

Friendship, however, did not prevent Nehru from imprisoning Sheikh Abdullah when he became concerned that the "Lion of Kashmir" was disposed to demand independence for his state. Ultimately, Sheikh Abdullah struck a deal with Indira Gandhi, and in 1975 he became chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir. The National Conference remained Jammu and Kashmir's dominant party through the 1980s and maintained control over the state government for most of the period. In parliamentary elections, it won one of Kashmir's six parliamentary seats in 1967, none in 1971, two in 1977, and three in 1980, 1984, and 1989.

However, popular support for the National Conference was badly eroded by allegations of electoral fraud in the 1987 state elections — which were won by the National Conference in alliance with the Congress (I) — and the widespread corruption of the subsequent state government under the leadership of Farooq Abdullah. There was little popular sympathy for Farooq Abdullah and the National Conference even after the government was dissolved and President's Rule declared in 1990. Jammu and Kashmir remained under President's Rule through 1995, and the absence of elections makes it difficult to ascertain the extent of the National Conference's popular support. Nevertheless, it appears that Farooq and the National Conference remain discredited.*

Political Parties in Assam

During the late 1980s, the AGP rose to power in Assam on the crest of Assamese nationalism. Immigration to Assam — primarily by Muslim Bengalis from neighboring Bangladesh — had aroused concern that the Assamese would become a minority in their own state. By 1979 attention was focused on the controversial issue of determining how many immigrants would be allowed on the state's list of eligible voters. [Source: Library of Congress, 1995*]

The Congress (I), which gained a substantial share of the immigrants' votes, took a more expansive view of who should be included while the Assamese nationalist organizations demanded a more restrictive position. An attempt to hold state elections in February 1983, and in effect to force the Assamese nationalists to accept the status quo, resulted in a breakdown of law and order and the deaths of more than 3,000 people. The subsequent formation of a Congress (I) government led by Hiteshwar Saikia was widely viewed in Assam as illegitimate, and it was dissolved as part of the terms of the Assam Accord that was signed between Rajiv Gandhi and Assamese nationalists on August 15, 1985. The Assam Accord also included a compromise on the voter eligibility issue, settled the issue of the citizenship status of immigrants, and stipulated that new elections were to be held in December. The AGP was formed by Assamese student leaders after the signing of the accord, and the new party won the December 1985 elections with 35 percent of the vote and sixty-four of 108 seats in the state legislature.*

The victory of the AGP did not end the controversy over Assamese nationalism. The AGP was unable to implement the accord's provisions for disenfranchising and expelling illegal aliens, in part because Parliament passed legislation making it more difficult to prove illegal alien status. The AGP's failure to implement the accord along with the general ineffectiveness with which it operated the state government undercut its popular support, and in November 1990 it was dismissed and President's Rule declared. As the AGP floundered, other nationalist groups of agitators flourished. The United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) became the primary torchbearer of militant Assamese nationalism while the All Bodo Students' Union (ABSU) and Bodo People's Action Committee (BPAC) led an agitation for a separate homeland for the central plain tribal people of Assam (often called Bodos).

By 1990 ULFA militants ran virtually a parallel government in the state, extorting huge sums from businesses in Assam, especially the Assamese tea industry. The ULFA was ultimately subdued through a shrewd combination of ruthless military repression and generous terms of surrender for many of its leaders. The ABSU/BPAC-led mass agitation lasted from March 1987 until February 1993 when the ABSU signed an accord with the state government that had been under the Congress (I) control since 1991. The accord provided for the creation of a Bodoland Autonomous Council with jurisdiction over an area of 5,186 square kilometers and 2.1 million people within Assam. Nevertheless, Bodo agitation continued in the mid-1990s as a result of the demands of many Bodo leaders, who insisted that more territory be included under the Bodoland Autonomous Council.*

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Library of Congress, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Encyclopedia.com, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Wall Street Journal, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated December 2023

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