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Himanta Biswa Sarma to be Assam's new Chief Minister


GUWAHATI: BJP strongman Himanta Biswa Sarma will be the new Assam chief minister.

His name as the CM candidate was proposed by outgoing CM Sarbananda Sonowal and seconded by BJP state unit chief and MLA Ranjeet Kumar Dass and MLA Nandita Garlosa.

In the 126-member Assam House, BJP has 60 MLAs. Its allies Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and United People's Party Liberal (UPPL) have nine and six MLAs respectively. Both parties backed Sarma as the CM. The swearing-in is expected on Monday.

The BJP legislature party meeting was also attended by party’s central leaders Narendra Singh Tomar, BL Santhosh, Arun Singh and Vaijyanta Panda.

Sarma, a five-time minister, was first elected to the Assembly from the Jalukbari seat in 2001 when he defeated Asom Gana Parishad biggie Bhrigu Kumar Phukan. He went on to win all the subsequent elections by huge margins of votes. 

Noting his ability as a minister, efficiency to run a department by taking along all and his political wisdom, observers say Sarma should have become the Assam CM long back.

He had his eyes fixed on the CM chair even during his life in the Congress but he fell out with his then mentor and former CM Tarun Gogoi following the emergence of the latter’s son Gaurav Gogoi in Assam’s political landscape. He left the party to wear saffron. 

When Assam won the 2016 polls, the BJP took the lead in forming the non-Congress conglomerate of political parties called North East Democratic Alliance and made Sarma its convenor.

He has not only contributed to the prowess of the BJP in Assam ever since his defection but hoisted the party’s flag across the Northeast.

A master election strategist who is widely known for his political acumen, he was instrumental in scripting the BJP’s victory, not just in Assam but also in some states of the Northeast. The BJP also rules Tripura, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and is a constituent of the ruling coalition in Nagaland and Meghalaya.

Sarma had played a key role in toppling the Peoples' Party of Arunachal government in 2016 when 33 of its 43 MLAs, led by CM Pema Khandu, had joined the BJP.

He did not stop there. The next year, he helped the BJP form a government for the first time in Manipur. The BJP had won 22 seats as against the Congress’s 28 in the 60-member House but he managed to cobble up the numbers with his efforts, including engineering defections.