Sarbananda Sonowal and Ripun Bora.

Post 2nd May Assam Assembly elections results, two questions will immediately engage us. First, who will form the government—Congress-led Mahajot or BJP-led Mitrajot? The second question is –who will be the chief ministerial candidates from them?

The selection of the chief ministerial candidates is an internal matter of a party. It is the prerogative of the top leadership of the party. Or if not decided by the party top brass, the elected MLAs are to decide who will be the chief minister. It should not be the headache of the common voter.

But the pertinent question is why the political parties project CM candidates prior to the elections if the common men have no say on this! The very objective of such projection of a particular individual as the chief ministerial candidate is to create a wave in favour of the party banking on the image of the projected candidate.

There are many people, who despite not being supporters or followers of a party, come out in support of them due to their faith in certain leaders belonging to a particular party.

For example, it is believed that in the 2016 Assam Assembly election, the reason behind voting the BJP to power was the Narendra Modi wave and the ‘clean image’ of Sarbananda Sonowal, who was regarded as ‘jatiya nayak’ (national hero) during that time.

Interestingly, this time neither the BJP nor the Congress has projected any leader as the choice for the top post.

We believe for a vibrant democratic system, the political parties should seriously ponder over the people’s choice for the chief minister’s post.

There is no denying in the fact that the processes of CM selection either by party top leadership or by the elected MLAs, factional bias, or the question of loyalty always plays a key role.

In high command-centric parties like the Congress or BJP, the blessing of the party leadership is dependent upon staying loyal to the top leadership of the party all the time. Obviously, this results in waves of support towards the one who accepts every decision of high command unquestioningly. We feel this tendency of the high command selecting the chief minister goes against the federal principles and often it reflects the dominating mindset/attitude.

It seems those influential leaders who can give the highest number of party tickets to their loyalists tend to become strong contenders for the chief minister post. One who can garner support from a maximum number of legislators has the probability of becoming chief minister. Under such circumstances, many suitable leaders are deprived of their due.

Thus it is imperative to give importance to people’s views and choices too. As the two factors discussed above are at work in the selection of the CM, often there remain questions of the capabilities of the candidate elected in this manner. In this context, we are trying to focus on the respective strengths of the potential CM candidates of the BJP-led Mitrajot and Congress-led Mahajot from the perspective of a citizen.

We strongly feel that if BJP did not project Sarbananda Sonowal as the CM candidate, the party would not have shown the spectacular results that it showed in the 2016 assembly election. Both the success and failures of the BJP-led government during the last 5 years will directly go to CM Sonowal.

So in case, the BJP-led alliance retains power this time, one has to interpret that the voters haven’t lost confidence in this ruling alliance and have given a mandate for another five years to rule. This implies that people have accepted the leadership of Sonowal and have voted the party to power. So, in case the BJP gets the absolute majority, Sonowal should be the sole candidate for the CM post.

The same point is applicable to the Congress-led grand alliance as well. It is a fact that the humiliating defeat of the Congress in the 2016 Assembly election was a clear reflection of people’s dissatisfaction towards the Late Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government.

In this context, in case the Congress-led grand alliance is able to get the majority the credit of forming of Mahajot and leading the alliance unitedly will certainly go to Assam PCC president Ripun Bora. We all know that post-2016 elections the Congress got substantially weekend organisationally and Bora was able to revive the organizational base of the party from such a hopeless state.

Simultaneously he led the anti-CAA movement in Assam from the front. It was Bora who was the architect of bringing all the anti-CAA forces together electorally too. Hence, if the is Congress-led grand alliance manages to cross the halfway mark, the credit will definitely go to Bora for being able to lead the alliance in a stable way without much difficulty in seat-sharing among alliance partners.

Kishor Kumar Kalita

Kishor Kumar Kalita is a commentator based in Guwahati and can be reached at kishorassam@gmail.com