Himanta Biswa Sarma Ahead in Race to Be Crowned as Next Assam CM, NDA to Meet Today

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Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is all set to be the next chief minister of the state after the BJP-led coalition won the Assembly elections held this year. According to sources in the party, Sarma’s name will be proposed by incumbent Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in a meeting of the newly elected MLAs on Sunday afternoon.

The BJP Legislature Party in Assam will meet to elect the next Chief Minister of the state. The meeting is scheduled to begin from 11 am and Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar and party General Secretary Arun Singh will be present as central observers. Baijayant Panda, BJP’s Assam in-charge will also be present on the occasion. Party’s state unit President Ranjeet Kumar Dass visited the legislative assembly Saturday evening to review arrangements for the legislature party meeting. He, however, refused to divulge the details of the scheduled meeting.

The state NDA, including AGP and UPPL, will on Sunday hold a meeting at 1 pm to ratify the leader of legislative party. Later in the day, around 4 pm, the BJP unit of Assam will meet Governor Jagdish Mukhi to stake claim to form the government. In the results announced for the 126-member Assam Assembly last Sunday, the BJP won 60 seats while its alliance partners AGP got nine seats and UPPL six. The swearing-in ceremony of the new chief minister will take place on Monday. BJP national president J P Nadda will be be present at the the oath-taking event.

On Saturday, Sarma and Sonowal, both contenders for the top post, were in New Delhi to meet the BJP central leadership. Sarma visited Nadda’s residence, where he also met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP general secretary (Organisation) B L Santhosh. A series of meetings, lasting for more than four hours, were held with Nadda and Shah with the duo, following which Sarma said that the BJP’s legislature party is likely to meet on Sunday and all questions related to the next government will be answered there. Both Sonowal and Sarma had gone together to Delhi on Saturday morning by a chartered flight and returned at night along with the central observers.

Sonowal, who belongs to Assam’s indigenous Sonowal-Kachari tribals, and Sarma, the convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance, were both contenders for the top post of the Assam government. The BJP had not announced a chief ministerial candidate before the Assembly polls in Assam and speculations are rife for the last one week on who would be the next chief minister of the state.

In the 2016 Assembly polls, the BJP had projected Sonowal as its chief ministerial candidate and won, forming the first saffron party government in the northeast. This time, the party has been maintaining that it would decide who would be the next chief minister of Assam after the elections.

Party sources had said the name of the chief minister was expected to be proposed by either of the contenders with the party president likely to second it. The ruling BJP alliance is the first non-Congress government in the state to win the elections for the second consecutive term.

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