Himanta Biswa Sarma, the face of the BJP in Northeast India, will be sworn in on Monday as the 15th Chief Minister of Assam.
Dr. Sarma and the outgoing chief minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, met Governor Jagdish Mukhi on Sunday afternoon and put forward the BJP’s claim to form the government.
Earlier, Mr. Sonowal submitted his resignation to the Governor, paving the way for his younger colleague to succeed him. Both leaders had cut their political teeth in the All Assam Students’ Union.
The BJP won 60 of the 126 seats in the Assam Assembly election. Its allies, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL), won nine and six seats, respectively.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Sonowal proposed the name of Dr. Sarma as the Chief Minister at the BJP Legislature Party meeting, ending a week of speculation over who would take charge of the new government. BJP State president Ranjeet Kumar Dass and MLA-elect Nandita Garlosa seconded the proposal.
The AGP and the UPPL too extended support.
The BJP’s central leaders Narendra Singh Tomar, B.L. Santosh, Arun Singh and Baijayant Panda attended the meeting.
“A few MLAs of our party and the two allies will be sworn in as Cabinet Ministers along with Dr. Sarma around noon. Others will be sworn in later,” Dilip Saikia, Lok Sabha member, said.
Party insiders said Dr. Sarma was likely to keep the Finance, Health and Home portfolios with him. He handled Finance and Health in the Sonowal government as also in the Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government earlier.
Mr. Sonowal said he was confident of Dr. Sarma leading Assam well and strengthening the BJP. “We managed to ensure peace, progress and security because of which the people re-elected us. I have the faith Himanta will serve people honestly and fight corruption,” he said, urging the MLAs to stay united.
Mr. Sonowal had on Friday said he has no immediate plans to move to the Centre and would be happy to serve his constituency Majuli as an MLA.
Dr. Sarma said Mr. Sonowal’s “spotless tenure” was a factor in the first non-Congress government managing to retain power in Assam. He also credited the electoral victory to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for the northeast.
“Mr. Sonowal was our leader and he will remain so. We will march ahead by following the road he showed us,” Dr. Sarma said.
“I promise the value-based politics will remain in our endeavour to become one of the five best States in India,” he said.
The oath-taking ceremony on Monday would be held at the Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra on the southern edge of Guwahati. “The ceremony will be organised with adherence to COVID-19 protocols,” Biswajit Pegu, the Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup (Metropolitan), said.