Sonowal, Sarma lobby for CM’s post

GUWAHATI, MAY 3 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 5/3/2021 12:53:17 PM IST

While the BJP-led alliance retained power in Assam with a convincing majority, uncertainty over who shall be the next chief minister of the state continued. 

Incumbent chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal was projected for the position by the BJP ahead of 2016 Assembly election, which it had contested in alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), The Assam Tribune report stated. 

But ahead of this year’s state polls, the party refrained from naming any chief ministerial candidate, maintaining that the BJP doesn’t single out anyone as the prospective chief minister in states where it is already in power. 

And a day after the results of the polls, lobbying has started for gaining support to stake claim to the chief minister’s chair in the state. 

Sonowal is reported to be in touch with the winning legislators to pool enough numbers in his favour so that he can retain his position. 

A known Narenda Modi loyalist and a former Union minister, Sonowal could be the safe bet for the party if it decides not to make any major changes in the state leadership, at least for the time being. On the other hand, several newly-elected MLAs have purportedly flocked to state cabinet minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma’s official residence here since morning, ostensibly to congratulate him. 

But political observers have interpreted it as a show of support and strength, and reports have indicated that the influential minister and BJP’s main trouble-shooter in North East region is flocking together nearly 50 legislators, who will demand Sarma as the chief minister before the central party leadership.

The party central leadership is tight lipped on who shall be the chief minister, with its national vice-president and in-charge of Assam, Baijayant Jai Panda, holding separate meetings with Sonowal, Sarma and state party chief Ranjeet Kumar Dass during the day today, before flying to New Delhi later in the afternoon. 

The AGP and the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL), the new partner in the alliance following the BPF’s exit late last year, has already made it clear that it shall be the prerogative of ‘big brother’ BJP to choose the chief minister. 

The BJP bagged 60 seats, equalling the number of members it had in the outgoing Assembly, while AGP came down to nine seats from 14 in 2016 polls and the UPPL secured six seats, totalling 75 in the House of 126 members.

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