[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]U[/dropcap]Union Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal will be the new Assam BJP chief. He replaces Siddhartha Bhattacharya, whose tenure was marred by intra-party feud. Learning from the Bihar debacle where it did not project any chief ministerial candidate, the BJP may also go for naming Sonowal as its face in the state assembly polls in less than six months from now, sources said. Sonowal is a leader with a mass appeal. He was the president of the All Assam Students Union (AASU) from 1992 to 1999.
Bhattacharya will now be the party spokesperson for Northeast India and one of the three vice-chairmen of the election management committee along with MPs Ramen Deka and Rajen Gohain.
Hoping to end the infighting under Sonowal’s leadership, the BJP has also constituted an election management committee. Sonowal will head the committee and former Congress stalwart Himanta Biswa Sarma will be its convener. Sarma is a seasoned politician and a one-time close aide of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. He has been an MLA from the Jalukbari constituency in Assam since 2001. He switched over to the BJP three months ago.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he BJP counts on Sarma’s clout to tilt the scale in its favour, though he as been part of a series of financial scandal that rocked the state during the last few years.
On whether Sonowal will by party’s chief ministerial candidate, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said BJP’s Parliamentary Board will take a call on this issue at an `appropriate’ time.
The BJP is expected to mobilize its entire resources to end 15-year uninterrupted reign of Tarun Gogoi. In four other states—Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, and Puducherry—the BJP has no hope of coming to power. But party senses a realistic chance to capture power in Assam because there has been rush from different quarters to join the party. As many as nine Congress MLAs recently switched side and joined the saffron outfit. Several well-known leaders of the Asom Gana Parishad have also joined the BJP in the recent past.
The BJP set its eye on winning Assam after its stupendous performance in the Lok Sabha polls when it won seven of the 14 seats whereas the Congress could manage just three seats. Assembly segment-wise break up showed that the BJP led in as many as 79 of the 126 Assembly segments.
Determined to fetch a two-third majority in the state, the party has announced “Mission 84” for Assam.