GUWAHATI: Ending days of uncertainty, the BJP on Sunday named party strongman Himanta Biswa Sarma as its Assam chief ministerial candidate.
The decks were cleared after he was elected as the leader of BJP legislature party in the presence of central observers including Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, BL Santhosh, Arun Singh and Vaijyanta Panda.
The name of Sarma was proposed by outgoing CM Sarbananda Sonowal and seconded by BJP state chief and MLA Ranjeet Kumar Dass and MLA Nandita Garlosa.
“As no other name was proposed, Sarma was elected unanimously as the BJP legislature party leader,” Tomar said.
Later in the evening, Sarma along with Sonowal and other leaders of BJP-led alliance met Governor Jagdish Mukhi and submitted a list of legislators to him, staking claim to form the government. The alliance of BJP, Asom Gana Parishad and United People’s Party Liberal had bagged a combined 75 seats in the 126-member House.
Sarma as well as some ministers will be administered the oath of office and secrecy on Monday. Outgoing CM Sonowal tendered his resignation to the Governor, but was asked to continue in office till the new government is installed.
Earlier in the day, Sarma visited Sonowal and left in the same vehicle to attend the BJP legislature party meeting. Later, both posed together for photos.
On Saturday, the duo had rushed to Delhi in a chartered flight after being summoned by the party’s central leaders who met them separately before meeting them together at party chief JP Nadda’s residence.
Sonowal accepted the transition with a smile.
Speaking after a meeting of NDA legislature party, he highlighted how the BJP government had managed to restore peace in the state.
“The government had managed to restore peace and ensure progress and security. People’s faith and trust in us increased as evident from this victory. Given his long experience, I am confident Mr Himanta Biswa Sarma will be able to deliver,” Sonowal said.
Sarma said Assam had seen value-based politics in the last five years under Sonowal. He said there are some dark spots in the moon but Sonowal’s tenure was spotless.
“We will march ahead by following in his (Sonowal’s) footsteps. I promise the new government will maintain value-based politics. Sonowal was our leader and he will remain so,” Sarma said.
He expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for reposing faith in him.
“How enormously blessed I feel Hon PM Sri @narendramodi 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, & NE to greater heights,” Sarma tweeted.
He was prepared for this moment. He did all that he could to retain the attention of party’s central leaders. Even before other parties launched their election campaign, he had taken out rallies and organised roadshows across the state with thousands of BJP workers and supporters to prove his popularity.
His filing of nomination was a gala affair. Several thousand supporters accompanied him. Manipur CM N Biren Singh and BJP’s two central leaders were also present. Sonowal’s was a low-key affair.
The BJP got strengthened in Assam and Northeast ever since Sarma deserted the Congress and wore saffron. It was he who hoisted the BJP flag across the region and was rightly rewarded.