The central leadership of the BJP is mum over the question of CM in Assam after the spectacular victory of the party in the legislative assembly election, 2021. Even before the elections, the party did not declare a CM face, although, most of the incumbent parties do not do so in any election. However, the situation in Assam is different because the CM is Sarbananda Sonowal but most of the party, as well as the government activity, is managed by Himanta Biswa Sarma, the finance and health minister of the state who is credited with the victory in 2016 as well as 2021.
There are speculations that the central leadership of the party could elevate Himanta Biswa Sarma to the post of Chief Minister because most of the elected MLAs prefer him over the incumbent CM. Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar and national general secretary Arun Singh are set to visit Guwahati and the decision over the post of CM would be taken by them after meeting with elected MLAs of BJP.
“It is clear that either among the two, the incumbent CM or the finance minister (Sarma) would be the next CM. Whoever is given the responsibility will accept it. I appeal to all BJP MLAs and workers to remain calm till a decision is reached,” BJP state chief Ranjeet Kumar Dass told journalists on Tuesday.
Sarma, who is the popular choice for the post, refused to comment on the matter and said, “If my name is being discussed and I am being questioned on it, what do you expect me to answer? Someone has to become the CM as the post won’t remain vacant. You should ask a third person about it. It is embarrassing to face such questions.”
The alliance partners Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and United Peoples Party Liberal (UPPL) have left it on to BJP to pick up the person for CM post and they have no say over the matter.
Sarma is a very popular leader and has made history in Assam by winning his Jalukbari constituency for the fifth time in the row. Now, he deserves to be chief minister of Assam, and the BJP’s central leadership must make it a point to not for a second be in split minds about the same. The BJP has retained Assam courtesy of the untiring efforts of Himanta Biswa Sarma and the appeal which Prime Minister Narendra Modi enjoys in the state. So, it is not as if Sarma being chosen as the chief minister by the BJP would be something extraordinary.
It would simply mean that the BJP still acknowledges the efforts of those leaders because of which the party wins entire states. No doubt Sarbananda Sonowal has been a great chief minister. He has been hard working and ensured the upliftment of Assam. But Sonowal is a silent and diligent worker – traits which do not necessarily win elections in the times we live in. Perhaps Sarbananda Sonowal would be best suited in PM Modi’s cabinet, where he can work for the country without worrying about remaining in the media glare.
Himanta Biswa Sarma as chief minister would further strengthen the saffron party not just in Assam, but across the North East. Himanta Biswa Sarma’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and simultaneously of the state’s economy has earned him praises from all over India. It is now time for the BJP to take a courageous decision and reward the man for his efforts to colour the state of Assam with the saffron hue.