Guwahati: As the BJP rolled out the list of 70 candidates for the Assam assembly elections, on Friday, politician Himanta Biswa Sarma’s name in it started murmurs in political corridors, as he is being seen as the next chosen candidate for chief minister’s post. Sarma will contest the upcoming polls from his constituency Jalukbari.
To much surprise, BJP’s list, which was to have names of candidates only for the first and second phases of elections, included Sarma’s name along with that of state president Ranjeet Kumar Dass, whose constituencies will go to the polls in the third phase.
Among BJP’s the 70 picks, reportedly 67 are Himanta’s selection. He, Sonowal and Dass are natural choices of the party.
However, a few weeks ago, Sarma had publicly announced his unwillingness to contest assembly elections “on personal grounds” but had also added a conditional line in his letter that he would obey the party’s instructions.
Soon after Sarma’s announcement, speculations began about his shift to Centre and induction in the Union ministry. There was also talk that he was not ready to settle for a minister’s berth again and so would keep himself away from government responsibilities.
“Every BJP worker has to follow the party’s decision and one cannot function with his or her personal choices,” he said but remained non-committal about the chief ministerial candidate.
To note, six years ago, Sarma had quit Congress to join BJP after unsuccessfully contesting the then CM Tarun Gogoi’s leadership. However, PM Narendra Modi, much before the campaign for the 2016 polls, announced that Sonowal would be the chief minister of the first BJP government in the state, hence, dashing Sarma’s hopes of claiming the top post.
As up till now, Sarma handled important departments – finance, health, education and later public works and has also expanded his influence beyond Assam, planting the BJP flag in all the other North-East states.