National

Himanta Biswa Sarma will be new CM of Assam

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 09, 2021

Himanta Biswa Sarma   -  PTI

Sarmas name was proposed by Sonowal

After a day’s discussion, the BJP top brass decided on Sunday that former Congressman and North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma will be the party’s choice to succeed Sarbananda Sonowal as Chief Minister of Assam. A meeting of the BJP legislative party, held in Guwahati, unanimously elected Sarma as its leader. The meeting was held in the presence of central observer and Union Agricultural Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

On Saturday, the BJP leadership, including BJP president JP Nadda and former president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, held discussions with Sarma and Sonowal on the issue of Chief Ministership. “How enormously blessed I feel Prime Minister Narendra Modi for your faith in me. This is the biggest day in my life, and I so fondly cherish your generous affection. I assure you we shall leave no stone unturned to carry forward your vision of taking Assam, and North East to greater heights,” said Sarma in Twitter. BJP indicates that Sarma will be sworn in as the Chief Minister on Monday.

‘Unanimous choice’

“Sarma’s name was proposed by Sonowal and seconded by BJP State party president and Patacharkuchi MLA Ranjeet Kumar Dass and newly elected Haflong MLA Nandita Garlosa. As no other name was proposed for the top job, Sarma has been elected unanimously as the BJP Legislature Party leader’’, Tomar said.

A meeting of NDA partners-BJP, AGP and UPPL- was also subsequently held and Sarma was unanimously elected as the leader of the NDA Legislature Party, paving the way for him to become the next Chief Minister of the state. Earlier in the day, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal tendered his resignation to Governor Jagadish Mukhi who as is tradition, asked him to continue till the formation of the next government.

Sarma’s eyes, according to those close to him, were always set on the top job in Assam. However, the leader who owed his early rise to two former chief ministers from the Congress had to toil for many years with dogged determination to achieve his goal.

Considered by many to be the most powerful politician of the entire North Eastern region, 52-year-old Sarma is equally revered by supporters for his capabilities and reviled by critics for being over-ambitious.

A four-time MLA and a minister in all cabinets since 2001, Sarma’s political acumen and the ability to get work done against all odds was not only noticed but rewarded by his mentors- former Congress chief ministers Hiteswar Saikia and Tarun Gogoi- with both giving him ample opportunities to rise.

After he fell out with Gogoi, who realising his protege’s spiralling ambitions attempted to rein him in, Sarma ultimately quit the Congress in 2015.

The BJP did not waste the chance and scooped him up as a ‘big catch’ to help the right-wing party make inroads into the North East. He returned their confidence in him as the Convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), bringing all eight North Eastern states within the fold of the NDA, and forming governments either of the BJP or its alliance partners in the region.

Sarma took his first baby steps in politics way back in the early 1980s, during the height of the anti-foreigners’ stir, as an “errand boy” of the then AASU leaders Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and Bhrigu Kumar Phukan from whom he later wrested the Jalukbari constituency in 2001 as a Congress candidate.

After grasping the fine art of politics in AASU, he was noticed by the then Congress Chief Minister Hiteswar Saikia who took him under his wings while Sarma was still a law student at the Guwahati University.

Bypassing party norms, newly elected Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, also impressed with Sarma’s political skills, appointed the young debutante as minister of state for agriculture, planning and development and later during the same term, gave him additional responsibilities.

Sarma’s upward trajectory had begun. He slowly emerged as Gogoi’s blue-eyed boy and was elevated as a Cabinet Minister in his second-term.

Published on May 09, 2021

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