Guwahati: The BJP’s lead strategist in northeastern states and senior leader Himanta Biswa Sarma, who had played significant role in forming saffron party led governments in three other northeastern states – Tripura, Manipur and Arunachal — will take charge as the 15th Chief Minister of Assam on Monday.
Raj Bhavan officials said that Governor Jagdish Mukhi would administer the oath of office to the Chief Minister designate Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday noon at the famous Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra in Guwahati.
Different official sources said that besides Sarma, nine other ministers are likely to take oath on Monday.
According to the Raj Bhavan officials, Union Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Narendra Singh Tomar, outgoing Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and a host of central and state leaders, dignitaries and top officials would attend the swearing-in-ceremony.
The Opposition Congress and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) conveyed their greetings to Sarma and hoped that Assam would become one of the most developed states of the country under his tenure.Congress turned BJP leader, Sarma, who fondly called “Mama” in Assam, after being elected as the leader of the BJP legislature party, said : “After India’s independence, this is for the second time a BJP government has installed in Assam.”
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance has returned to power in Assam for a second consecutive term after winning the recently held three-phase elections to the 126-member state Assembly.
Sarma, who has already received the support of the two allies of “Mitrajot” — Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL), accompanied by other leaders including Sonowal met Governor Jagdish Mukhi at the Raj Bhavan in the afternoon and staked his claim to form the new government.
Sarma, who quit Congress in September 2015 after holding the ministerial posts in Chief Minister Tarun Gagoi led governments (2001-2016), was instrumental in the BJP’s victory both in the recently-held Assembly elections and in the 2016 polls in Assam and played important role in forming BJP led governments in Tripura, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
The 52-year-old was elected the leader of the BJP legislature party at a meeting held earlier in the day at the state Assembly complex, where party’s four central leaders and outgoing Chief Minister Sonowal were present.Before the BJP legislature party meeting Sonowal, 59, submitted his resignation to the Governor at the Raj Bhavan.
In his announcement after the legislature party meeting, Union Agriculture Minister Narednra Singh Tomar said that Sonowal proposed Sarma’s name as the leader of the BJP’s legislature party and others supported it.
“Assam BJP president and Patacharkuchi MLA Ranjeet Kumar Dass and newly-elected MLA Nandita Garlosa seconded Sonowal’s proposal. As there was no other contender for the post of legislature party leader, Sarma was unanimously elected for the post,” Tomar said.
Besides Tomar, the BJP’s National General Secretary Arun Singh, General Secretary (Organisation) B.L. Santhosh and party national Vice-President Baijayant Jay Panda also attended the meeting.
Immediately after his election, Sonowal, Tomar and other party leaders welcomed Sarma with the traditional Assamese ‘Gamocha’ (a white piece of cloth with a red border having a customary pattern).
Sarma, who was elected from the Jalukbari Assembly seat for the fifth time since 2001, was an important minister holding many departments including Finance, Health, PWD, Education, in the Sonowal government.Sarma defeated his Congress opponent Romen Chandra Borthakur by a margin of 1,01,911 votes against his 2016 winning margin of 85, 935 votes.
Sunday’s meeting was held after the three rounds of talks at BJP president J.P. Nadda’s residence in Delhi, where Sonowal, Sarma, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Santhosh were present.The Delhi meetings lasted for more than four hours.
Sonowal, who belongs to Assam’s indigenous Sonowal-Kachari tribes, and Sarma, an Assamese Brahmin who is the convenor of the anti-Congress North East Democratic Alliance, led the BJP in the recent three-phase March-April Assembly polls.
In the 126-member Assembly, the BJP won 60 seats while its alliance partner Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) got nine seats and new ally United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) secured six.