For Himanta Biswa Sarma it was to contest or not to; well, here’s what happened last week
Amidst all the political drama, it’s final that Assam finance minister and North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) convener Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma will not be contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. After the election dates were announced Dr Sarma revealed that he will not contest the 2021 state assembly elections. Political pundits started betting and guessing about the Lok Sabha constituency that the BJP heavyweight would contest from.
Speculation started pouring in that he would be contesting from Gauhati replacing Bijoya Chakravarty who is the sitting BJP MP of the constituency after reports came in that she will not contest from the city. Later, the name of present Mangaldoi MP Ramen Deka started surfacing for Gauhati constituency. But the party finally zeroed in on Queen Ojha for the Gauhati Lok Sabha constituency.
On March 14, an important meeting of the BJP Assam Election Committee was held at Guwahati to finalize the candidates for the Assam Lok Sabha seats. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, BJP president Ranjit Kumar Dass, NEDA convener Himanta Biswa Sarma and a couple of MPs were part of the meeting.
The BJP Assam Election Committee, on March 15, had shortlisted candidates for 10 Lok Sabha seats. Media reports quoting sources said that barring Tezpur constituency, for which only one name –Himanta Biswa Sarma – had been shortlisted. For Silchar constituency, the names of Dr Rajdeep Roy (now nominated) and Parimal Suklabaidya had been shortlisted, while Kripanath Mallah (now nominated) and Amaresh Roy were in the panel for Karimganj constituency. For Diphu names included Haren Sing Bey (now nominated), Bidya Sing Engleng, Tuliram Ronghang and Kache Teronpi.
For the Jorhat seat, the names of sitting MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, state minister Topon Kumar Gogoi (now nominated), Lakhya Konwar and Santanu Gogoi were in the panel, while for Dibrugarh the names of sitting MP Rameswar Teli (now nominated) and Pulak Gohain were in the list. Sitting MP Pradan Baruah (now nominated) and Haren Deori were in the panel for Lakhimpur. For Gauhati, the party had shortlisted sitting MP Bijoya Chakravarty, Bijuli Kalita Medhi, Queen Ojha (now nominated) and Chikimiki Talukdar. For Nowgong, sitting MP and union minister Rajen Gohain, MLAs Rupak Sarmah and Angoorlata Deka, and Jitu Goswami were on the list. For Mangaldai the names of sitting MP Ramen Deka, Dilip Saikia (now nominated) and Jayanta Malla Baruah had been shortlisted.
The whole of local media was ablaze with the probable names of the candidates. Angry over these reports, incumbent BJP MP Ram Prasad Sarmah resigned from the party on March 16 and said that he would only return to the party if Prime Minister Narendra Modi would request. This led to further chaos within the BJP.
Meanwhile, the Congress released their list on 15th and 18th March respectively. In the first list, the names included were of Swarup Das (Karimganj), Sushmita Dev (Silchar), Gaurav Gogoi (Kaliabor), Sushanta Borgohain (Jorhat) and Paban Singh Ghatowar (Dibrugarh). On the second list, the names of the candidates were Biren Singh Engti from Diphu, Bhubaneswar Kalita from Mangaldai, MGVK Bhanu from Tezpur, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee Vice President and senior Congress leader Pradyut Bordoloi from Nagaon and Anil Borgohain from Lakhimpur parliamentary seat.
The BJP list was yet to be endorsed and announced by the CEC and got delayed due to the sudden demise of Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar on March 17 as the party had to postpone all meetings.
Later on March 21, ending all speculations, the BJP published its first list of candidates for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Just before the list was put up BJP national president Amit Shah, in a series of tweets, revealed that the Assam BJP Election Committee had suggested Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma’s name for the Lok Sabha elections. But, the BJP Central Election Committee had decided that Dr Sarma will carry out his current duties as Assam minister and NEDA convener to strengthen the party’s base and work towards the development of the region. Shah also asked party workers and people from the state to support the decision as it was necessary for the party.
Later, Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma responded with a tweet saying that he respects the decision taken by the central committee and will work along with the rest of the country for the re-election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.