In Assam, rival BJP camps of Sonowal, Sarma intensify efforts for top job

Though the BJP-led alliance won 75 seats out of the 126 and is well over the half way mark, the BJP was not able to win a simple majority on its own having won 60 seats

Assam, coronavirus, COVID-19, Lockdown, CII, economic package,
The BJP put up its best performance in Assam under the chief ministership of Sarbananda Sonowal.

Immediately after the decisive win of the BJP-led NDA alliance, comprising the BJP and AGP and UPPL, the tussle for the post of Chief Minister has started between incumbent Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal and finance minister and North-East Democratic Alliance convener Himanta Biswa Sarma, with both camps displaying show of strength.

A day after the declaration of results, both Sonowal and Sarma went into a huddle with elected MLAs known to be loyal to them at their residences.

Sarma, however, refused to comment on the issue when approached by the media, and said that it is a decision which will be taken by the party’s central leadership in a couple of days.

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“The Chief Minister will be picked by the BJP’s parliamentary panel,” he said.

Though the BJP-led alliance has won 75 seats out of the 126 seats and is well over the half way mark of 64 seats, the BJP was not able to win a simple majority on its own having won 60 seats.

The legislators of the alliance partner AGP, which is the party where Sonowal had started his political career with and stayed till 2011 before switching to the BJP, are backing the incumbent chief minister to continue in the second term. The AGP has 9 legislators in the assembly.

Immediately after the declaration of results on the day of counting, newly elected AGP MLA from Tezpur, Prithiraj Rabha said that Sonowal should be made the chief minister.

“Sarbananda Sonowal should continue as the chief minister,” said Rabha.

The UPPL’s leadership, though declined to back anyone, said they want an “efficient and dynamic” chief minister for the welfare of the state. “We want an efficient and dynamic Chief Minister,” said UPPL chief Pramod Boro.

However, there is a section of MLAs, reportedly seen to be close to the Sarma camp, who said that they would prefer Sarma as the chief minister.

Many of the newly elected turncoat BJP MLAs who had switched to the BJP recently from the Congress, are backing Sarma for the top post.

Lok Sabha MP from the Autonomous district, Horen Sing Bey said he supports Sarma as the chief minister.

“People from the Dima Hasao district and Karbi Anglong district want Sarma as the Chief Minister,” said Bey. Along with Bey, newly elected BJP legislator from Barhampur, Jitu Goswami, also expressed support for Sarma.

When approached, Prasanta Phukan, BJP MLA from Dibrugarh known to be close to Sonowal, said the decision will be taken by the central party leadership.

“We will abide by the decision taken by the central party leadership,” said Phukan.

Also read: Relentless march of saffron brigade: How BJP captured Assam, again

Incumbent chief minister Sonowal will be having a ceremonial meeting with all the newly elected MLAs, and is also likely to hold a separate meeting with all the newly elected legislators of the NDA alliance.

The incumbent chief minister is also expected to tender his resignation before the Assam governor by tomorrow, and will be waiting for the central leadership to take a decision on the post of chief minister.

According to BJP leaders close to the incumbent chief minister, looking at prevailing conditions, he might also make a quick visit to New Delhi.

Also read: Don’t need Miya Muslim votes, neither will give them ticket: Assam minister

Congress plans introspection

The Congress, though didn’t win the election, managed to increase its tally by three seats, and party leaders said they would be more active in the next five years and will introspect the reasons for the debacle.

“The Congress will work with the next government on the COVID response. As opposition, we’ll remain vigilant and considerate,” said Lok Sabha MP from Koliabor and senior Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi.

“We will introspect what went wrong, as we were confident of a good result after having run a very successful campaign,” said Congress spokesperson Apurba Bhatttacharjee.

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