In Assam BJP in fix over chief minister- Sonowal or Sharma?

From Bhupen Goswami

GUWAHATI : BJP is going to form the government once again in Assam. In the results/trends of Assam Assembly elections 2021, BJP has won or won more than 70 seats. The majority figure in the 126-member Assam Assembly is 64. Even though these results have made the path to power easier for the BJP, it still faces a big challenge. The newly elected MLAs of Assam are meeting separately at chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s official residence and minister Hemant Vishwa Sharma’s official residence. Hemant Vishwa Sharma reportedly appealed to Union Home Minister Amit Shah to meet his demand. He has also spoken to BJP national president JP Nada.

Some MLAs have started calling the Prime Minister, home minister, BJP national president to make Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal chief minister of Assam again and some MLAs have started calling the Prime Minister, Home Minister, BJP National President to make Hemant Vishwa Sharma chief minister. But so far the central BJP leadership is not able to decide who will be the chief minister. In fact, the BJP will now have to announce the name of the next Chief Minister of Assam, which is considered a challenging task as the party has not announced the name of sitting Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal as the chief ministerial candidate.

For the first time in assam’s political history, a non-Congress alliance is going to form the government for the second time in a row. The BJP alliance has won 76 of the 126 seats in the state while the Congress alliance has to settle for 49 seats. Though the BJP may have conquered the political battle of Assam, the picture is not clear as to who will sit in the chief minister’s chair. The question arises as to which of the BJP’s command of power will be handed over to Sarbananda Sonowal and Hemant Biswa Sarma? 

In Assam Assembly elections,BJP had not projected any of its leaders as chief minister’s face this time. The BJP party had come out with a collective leadership instead of pushing a face in the elections to avoid factionalism. However, he was a minister in the Modi government at the Centre when the party declared Sonowal as the CM’s face before the Assam assembly elections in 2016. Bjp has now managed to return to power as the Chief Minister of Sarbananda. It will not be easy for the party to elect the chief minister as Hemant Biswa Sarma has also emerged as a big face.Hemant Biswa Sarma, who left the Congress in Assam and joined the BJP, has grown politically in the party.

Sarma is believed to have left the Congress only because he could not become chief minister ahead of Tarun Gogoi. Hemant Biswa Sarma’s political ambitions are well known. Sarma joined BJP five years ago when he wanted the party to present him as cm candidate but BJP did not do so. On the other hand, the BJP did not want to create a rift by making a leader from outside the chief minister. That is why Sarbananda made Sonewal the face of the CM and later handed over the command of power. After five years, the political situation in Assam has changed considerably. Sonewal has been accused of not being able to coordinate with MLAs and regional leaders. On the other hand, Hemant Biswa Sarma has not only established himself in the BJP but has also managed to convey to the top leadership that he is a Trump card for the strength of the BJP in Assam as well as in the North-Eastern States. In Assam, the highest number of people have expressed their faith in Hemant Biswa Sarma as the chief minister’s face. Hemant Biswa Sarma has also played a key role in bjp’s performance in the last and this time elections in Assam. In such a situation, one has to deny either Hemant Biswa Sarma and Sarbananda Sonowal before the BJP to decide on the chief minister’s name. The trouble before the BJP now is that if the party makes sarma sit in the CM’s chair to please her, the Sarbananda Sonowal camp will be angry. On the other hand, if Sarbananda Sonewal is crowned, Hemant Biswa Sarma can stop. In this way, the party may also face a breakdown. The Congress will leave no stone unturned to capitalise on the opportunity. That is why it is not easy for the BJP to decide the CM’s face. It has to be seen to whom the BJP commands the power of Assam. In fact, there is resentment in the party over Sarbananda Sonowal. Some leaders have complained that Sonowal has no coordination with MLAs and regional leaders. Although such complaints are common, there is a little too much anger in the party about Sonowal. That is why the high command had not projected anyone cm before the elections to avoid discord. While the BJP had declared Sonowal as the CM’s face before the Assam assembly elections in 2016, he was a minister in the Modi government at the Centre. This shows that the high command’s thinking on Sonowal has changed in these few years. However, this does not mean that Sarbananda Sonowal’s grip on the party has weakened. There is no dearth of those who support him and above all, the BJP has again performed so well when he was chief minister. In such a situation, it will not be easy for the party to elect the Chief Minister.

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