The decision, which was taken in party’s board meeting on Friday, reflects a strategic shift in the BJP’s approach to face the Assembly polls.
In a move marking shift in strategy, the BJP on Thursday declared Union Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal as the chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming polls in Assam.
The decision, which was taken in party’s board meeting on Friday, reflects a strategic shift in the BJP’s approach to face the Assembly polls. Unlike in Bihar where the BJP paid the price for ignoring local leaders and relying heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma, the battle in Assam would be fought with a local face in the lead.
Barring the Delhi Assembly polls when Kiran Bedi was projected as the chief ministerial candidate at the last minute, the BJP has not projected any local leaders in state elections.
The declaration, which comes much ahead of polls, is the first major step taken by the BJP after the re-election of Amit Shah as president. Sonowal is known to have a strong base in Assam and is also considered close to Shah.
The BJP parliamentary board made the decision in an hour-long meeting attended, among others, by PM Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah. “The people of Assam know Sarbananda Sonowal as a national hero. The parliamentary board has decided that the party will fight the Assam polls in his leadership… BJP is going to form its government in Assam,” Union Minister JP Nadda, accompanied by party’s national secretary Shrikant Sharma, said.
Sonowal, under whose leadership BJP won seven seats in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, was made the chairman of election management committee and president of the state unit in November.
Party insiders said that BJP, which has six MLAs in Assam, hopes to make it to the state Assembly this time. It has already initiated talks with Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF) and Asom Gana Parishad(AGP) for a poll alliance. On the other side, Congress might go with AIUDF to take on the saffron party. Himanta Biswa Sarma, a state Congress heavyweight who had recently joined BJP along with many Congress MLAs, is another major support for the BJP. Assam Assembly elections are likely to be held in March or April.