Sonowal or Sarma? No decision yet on next CM

Published: May 5,2021 08:06 AM

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A decision on the next CM in Assam is yet to be taken though two days have passed since the BJP-led alliance won the assembly election and the state chief of the saffron party said on Tuesday.

May 5, 2021: A decision on the next Chief Minister in Assam is yet to be taken though two days have passed since the BJP-led alliance won the assembly election and the state chief of the saffron party said on Tuesday that either incumbent Sarbananda Sonowal or senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma will head the next government.

Assam BJP president Ranjit Kumar Dass said the decision on the selection of the chief minister will be taken by the party's central parliamentary board in Delhi.

The party is sending an observer, who will give his feedback to the board on the next chief minister, he said.

"One of the two (Sonowal or Sarma) will be the CM.

Everyone knows that. I request our MLAs and workers to have some patience ... Although the parliamentary board has not contacted me yet, I believe the observer will reach Assam in a day or two," Dass told reporters.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar was likely to reach Guwahati on Tuesday to hammer out a consensus regarding the top post but his trip was postponed, party sources said.

BJP vice-president and the party in-charge of Assam, Baijayant Panda had met Sonowal and Sarma separately on Monday but did not tell waiting journalists what transpired.

There were speculations before the poll that Sarma, who is also the convenor of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance, will be the chief minister if the party wins the election. The party, however, it did not announce any name unlike in 2016 when Sonowal was projected for the post.

Asked if he will be the next chief minister, Sarma quipped "How can I answer if my name is being considered? One of us will be the CM. You ask a third person."

The government's and his prime attention at this moment is to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and give service to the people, Sarma, who is the health minister in the outgoing Sonowal government, said.

"The final decision will be taken by the parliamentary board. Our national president has gone to West Bengal. I hope there will be a decision in a day or two," Sarma said.

The Congress during the election campaign had mocked the BJP top leaders' oft repeated assertions on "double- engine" government in Assam by saying that the state had two chief ministers apparently referring to rumours of Sarma and Sonowal acting as rival power centres.

A BJP leader had said on Monday that the party is unlikely to change the guard at this moment and Sonowal is likely to head the next government.

"There are many advantages in Sonowal's favour - we won on the performance of the incumbent government headed by him, he is a tribal face, does not have any allegation on any irregularity against him and is accepted as a secular face.

So, it is unlikely that he will be changed," he said.

BJP's alliance partners - the AGP and UPPL said it is for the "big brother" to take a call on who will head the next NDA government in Assam.