Amid growing suspense over the BJP’s next Chief Ministerial face for Assam, CM Sarbananda Sonowal and senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma have been summoned to Delhi by the party high command on Saturday morning. Both the leaders will leave Guwahati tomorrow to meet BJP national president JP Nadda, most likely to seal the deal and lift the suspense on the next CM face.
The BJP leadership is facing a tough choice over the appointment of the new Chief Minister of Assam – the only state where the party registered a convincing victory in the recently concluded assembly elections. The party has no reason to remove the incumbent Chief Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, whose clean image and good governance over the past term has helped the party regain power in the state.
On the other side is Himanta Biswa Sarma, who had powered the BJP rule in Assam and helped the party make inroads in the Northeast region, in the 2016 elections. An influential leader in the NE, Sarma had left the Congress in 2015 to join the BJP. He was not considered for the post of Chief Minister last time as he was too new in the party. However, over time, Sarma has outdone himself, tightening BJP’s grip over neighbouring states of Arunachal, Manipur as well as Tripura in a very short period.
After retaining power in Assam, all eyes are now on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as it has to decide on whether to keep Sonowal at the helm or elevate the state’s Health and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Spotlight on future roles for Sonowal & Sarma
The Assembly elections campaign season in the state of Assam has been marked by speculation of Sonowal possibly getting a role in the Union government and Himanta Biswa taking his place as the Chief Minister, as the saffron party did not name a CM candidate outright. Meanwhile, addressing these speculations, BJP vice-president and in-charge of Assam Jay Panda said that any decision that will be taken will be after a call is taken at the parliamentary board. He said, “Central observers will be sent and there will be legislative party meeting.”
In the 2021 Assembly elections, the saffron party retained the state with the alliance led by it winning 75 of the 126 seats – the BJP’s share being 60 seats.