GUWAHATI: BJP strongman Himanta Biswa Sarma who will take over as the chief minister of Assam on Monday is the architect of the BJP’s success not just in Assam, but the entire Northeast.
It has been a long wait for Sarma, who was once the blue-eyed boy of Tarun Gogoi, the former Congress CM of the state.
Within the Congress, he was seen as a natural successor to Gogoi. However, the two had fallen out with each other following Gogoi’s US-educated son Gaurav’s emergence in the Assam’s political landscape.
Sarma eventually left Congress after being upset about not being given the place that he deserved despite having won the support of a large majority of the party MLAs during the 2014-15 dissent within the party.
The BJP did not commit the same mistake. It has rewarded him for all that he has achieved for the party.
Born into a highly-educated family on February 1, 1969 in Jorhat, Sarma had started his political career with the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU).
He served the Cotton College Union Society as its general secretary for three terms in 1988-89, 1989-90 and 1991-1992.
He is a post-graduate in political science, an LLB and a PhD. Former CM Hiteswar Saikia could see the spark in Sarma and asked him to join the Congress in the first half of 1990s.
Noting his ability as a minister and his political wisdom, observers say Sarma should have become the Assam CM long back. After falling out with Gogoi, he had joined the BJP in 2015.
After the 2016 polls, the BJP formed a non-Congress conglomerate of political parties called North East Democratic Alliance and made him its convenor.
He has not only contributed to the prowess of the BJP in Assam but also consolidated the party’s organisational base across the region.
A master election strategist, who is widely known for his political acumen, he was instrumental in the BJP’s victory in Assam, Tripura, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
Sarma had played a key role in toppling the Peoples’ Party of the Arunachal government in 2016 when 33 of its 43 MLAs, led by CM Pema Khandu, 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 most powerful politico in the region
Considered by many to be the most powerful politician of the entire Northeast region, 52-year-old Sarma is equally revered by supporters for his capabilities and reviled by critics for being over-ambitious.