While BJP central leadership is having a back-to-back meeting with incumbent chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in New Delhi on Saturday over to the issue of Assam’s chief minister post, speculations are doing the round that the party top brass may go for an alternative face.
Party insiders said neither Sonowal nor Sarma but the party top leadership may consider BJP general secretary and Mangaldai MP Dilip Saikia or former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi for the post of chief minister in Assam.
However, former CJI Gogoi, earlier had dismissed the speculation that he would be BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in Assam.
“I am not a politician and have no such ambition or intent. Nobody has mentioned any such possibility to me,” Gogoi, now a nominated Rajya Sabha member, had said.
BJP president JP Nadda, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP general secretary BL Santhosh on Saturday held two separate meetings with Sarma and Sonowal.
The party central leadership held the first meeting with Sarma, who is also NEDA convenor, followed by chief minister Sonowal at BJP president Nadda’s residence.
Following the individual meetings, the party leadership held a joint meeting with the two leaders.
CM Sonowal and NEDA chief Sarma left for Delhi in a chartered flight in the early morning on Saturday.
The BJP has not announced Sonowal — who led the party to victory in 2016–as its CM face.
However, Sonowal’s popularity dwindled to a great extent during anti-CAA protests in the state in 2019.
On the other hand, Sarma is arguably the most influential politician in the Northeast right now –the BJP’s key strategist and trouble-shooter in the region.
Sarma, who is also the convenor of the North-East Democratic Alliance, a BJP-led umbrella organization of the regional parties in the Northeast, played a key role in containing the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the state last year.
By taking a lot of pro-active measures to curb the pandemic, Sarma, who also holds the health department, managed to change the impression of the people towards the government, the popularity of which was eroded following the CAA movement.
Sources said BJP may send Himanta to Delhi to play a major in national politics and may appoint Sonowal as state party president replacing Ranjeet Kumar Dass.