Assam readies to welcome new CM

Sarbananda Sonowal

The Northeast Indian State of Assam prepares to welcome its new chief minister as Sarbananda Sonowal is going to take the responsibility on 24 May. Guiding his party for the victory in the recently concluded State Assembly elections, Sonowal sets to be the first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister in northeast India.

Unlike the previous government led by the Congress, the swearing-in ceremony will be held at a public place in the outskirt of Guwahati, where over one hundred thousand audiences will be present. The function will also be graced by a number of VVIPs including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP  president Amit Shah, many chief ministers of BJP ruled States, spiritual leaders Sri Ravi Shankar, Baba Ramdev, Satradhikars of many Satras (Vaishnavite monastery), etc.

Assam witnessed a similar swearing-in ceremony three decades back in the city’s Judges Filed when Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) came to power for the first time at Dispur defeating the Congress. The AGP leaders, then fresh student activists belonged to All Assam Students’ Union, successfully concluded the historic Assam movement against the unabated Bangladeshi influx to the State.

The history here repeats as the Congress turned a heavy loser once again to the BJP and its allies including the AGP and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) in the Assembly polls held in April, where the
saffron brigade succeeded in winning altogether 86 out of 126 seats. The BJP alone won 60 seats to pave the way for ending the 15 years of uninterrupted Congress rule in the State.

Assam’s outgoing chief minister Tarun Gogoi is also expected to grace the occasion, as the veteran Congress leader was personally invited by the CM-designate Sonowal. Accompanied by BJP’s national general secretary Ram Madhav and Parliamentarian Rameswar Teli, Sonowal met Gogoi at his official residence at Koinadhara on Sunday evening and invited him to the swearing-in ceremony slated for Tuesday afternoon. Need not mention that an anti-incumbency wave to the Congress government, roaring assurances over curbing on Bangladeshi Muslim migrants and the fast-paced development, etc. by the BJP could influence the electorate of Assam to vote for the saffron party in the polls, which witnessed 83 percent (out of 1.92 crores) turnout. After the poll debacles in Delhi and Bihar (also in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry & Kerala Assembly elections), PM Modi thus found a reason to smile.

Once termed as a party of Brahman and Bania (trader), the BJP has slowly strengthened its root in the region bordering Bhutan, Tibet, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. The party had only five legislators in the last State Assembly, and it won seven seats (out of 14) from Assam in the last Lok Sabha polls. Energized as the BJP’s alliance partner, the AGP won 14 seats (10 seats in 2011 polls), and  the BPF succeeded in retaining 12 seats (same with last Assembly polls, though it was allied with the Congress that time).

With the Congress, the other losing party was the Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), which could succeed only in 13 constituencies in contrast to 18 seats in 2011 polls. A known sympathizer to Muslim migrants in Assam, Moulana Ajmal, who is a Parliamentarian from Dhubri Lok Sabha constituency, also lost from his Assembly constituency.

Some of the important winners include outgoing chief minister Gogoi, Assembly Speaker Pranab Gogoi, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Sonowal,  AGP president Atul Bora, former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, former State ministers Brindaban Goswami,  Pradip Hazarika, Chandra Mohan Patowary, Phani Bhusan Choudhury, former student leader Tapan Gogoi, etc.

All four seats in greater Guwahati area were won by BJP candidates namely  Atul Bora (senior) from Dispur constituency, Siddhartha Bhattacharya from Guwahati East, Ramendra Narayan Kalita from Guwahati West and Himanta Biswa Sarma from Jalukbari constituency. Guwahati’s BJP Parliamentarian Bijaya Chakrabarty’s daughter Suman Haripriya also won from Hajo constituency.

Among prominent losers from the Congress include former Union minister Paban Singh Ghatowar, former State ministers Pradyut Bordoloi, Gautam Roy, Sarat Barkataki, Bharat Chandra Narah, Atowa Munda, Chandan Kumar Sarkar, Nurzamal Sarkar, Tanka Bahadur Rai,  Prithibi Majhi, Bishmita Gogoi,  Ajit Singh, Siddique Ahmed, Pranati Phukan, etc.

The saffron party leaders already promised that it would urgently seal the border with Bangladesh, complete the NRC without a single illegal migrant, clear a huge volume of lands belonged to Vaishnavite Satras under encroachment, initiate for all round development with 24×7 power & water supply, ensure 100 percent irrigation coverage of arable lands, offer employment to 25 lakh youths, withdraw oral interviews for 3rd & 4th category government  jobs in the State etc. Now they expect all possible help & cooperation from the Centre to the new government at Dispur to materialize all these promises.


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