Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is undoubtedly the tallest leader of the BJP in the North East. He has been heading the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), for more than six years, even when he was not on the chair of the Chief Minister in Assam. The kind of influence that Sarma have in the North East politics can be understood with remarks of BJP leader and former Meghalaya minister Sanbor Shullai, who while commenting on a possible alliance with Conrad Sangma’s National People’s Party (NPP) in Meghalaya, had told reporters on the day of Assembly elections results (March 2) that the decision to team up with the NPP would be taken by Sarma. On that evening, it was Assam’s Chief Minister who announced a tie-up between the BJP and the NPP.
In the 2018 elections in Meghalaya, the BJP and the NPP fought separately. The BJP could not do well in that state and finally managed to win only two seats after fighting for 47. But it was Sarma’s magic that allowed the BJP to enjoy power in that state with the NPP. This time too, though NPP and BJP fought the elections separately, the Assam Chief Minister kept a channel open with Conrad Sangma so that BJP could be back in power if NPP fell short of a majority. Sarma and Sangma also held a meeting at a hotel in Guwahati just before the day of counting votes in the hill state. The probable tie-up for the government’s formation was formed at that meeting. The only failure was that the BJP failed to make any impact on the recent Meghalaya Assembly elections as it managed to win only two seats out of 60 that it contested.
At the same time, it was Sarma’s brain behind the change of Chief Minister in Tripura, and that decision paid well for the BJP. Moreover, Sarma deployed all his ministers, most of the MLAs and MPs to campaign vigorously in Tripura before the February 16 assembly poll to pull off a win there, and undoubtedly it delivered for the BJP. The Assam Chief Minister too was holding ground in Tripura to keep the BJP’s campaign tempo high. In Nagaland, where the BJP looked at extreme ease to retain power with its ally, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), Sarma was holding talks for quite a long time with the Chief Minister of the state, Neiphiu Rio, for a seat-sharing formula. Once things went well, the BJP did not require much force to retain power in that state. Now, Sarma is eyeing Mizoram, the only state in the northeast where the BJP is not in power. The state will go to polls in late this year, and Assam Chief Minister will definitely put up his strength for a good showing by the BJP there.
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