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  India   All India  12 Mar 2018  Himanta again proves to be BJP’s N-E pointman

Himanta again proves to be BJP’s N-E pointman

THE ASIAN AGE. | MANOJ ANAND
Published : Mar 12, 2018, 1:40 am IST
Updated : Mar 12, 2018, 1:40 am IST

Sarma has now earned the distinction of filling up the vacancy of late Pramod Mahajan in the BJP.

Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma
 Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma

Guwahati: From being former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi's trusted lieutenant to BJP president Amit Shah's blue-eyed boy, Himanta Biswa Sarma has come a long way as he scripted the saffron party's win in the three N-E states.

Mr Sarma has now earned the distinction of filling up the vacancy of late Pramod Mahajan in the BJP.

Mr Sarma, a media baron who joined the BJP in August 2015, has already scripted many success stories for the saffron party which was struggling to make its presence felt in many north-eastern states.

Today, the BJP has its own government in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura. The party has succeeded in leaving a very strong footprint in Meghalaya too.

Mr Sarma is quick to credit Mr Modi and party president Amit Shah for the party's spread in the Northeast. "Only because of the Act East policy of the Prime Minister did we manage to maintain this winning spree in the north-eastern states," he adds.

While Mr Sarma turned the table in Tripura by engineering a merger of Trinamul Congress in the BJP, formation of government in Meghalaya became a cakewalk for the NPP-BJP led alliance just because of Mr Sarma's old contacts with regional party leaders. If insiders are to be believed, Mr Sarma was in touch with regional party leaders much before the Meghalaya Assembly elections were announced.

Mr Sarma's homework not only helped the BJP in roping in strong Naga leaders like Y. Patton (now deputy chief minister) in Nagaland but also played a key role in persuading some Arunachal Pradesh legislators to join the BJP.

In fact understanding of geography and demography of north-eastern states always helped Mr Sarma who, despite opposition from a section of BJP leaders in Tripura, pushed for an alliance with the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT), which subsequently proved to be a game-changer on 20 tribal-dominated seats.

The IPFT won eight of the nine seats it contested and the BJP won 10 in a region that used to always stand behind the Left Front. Mr Sarma also roped in the Rajeshwar Debbarma-led faction of the IPFT to merge with the BJP.

Mr Sarma started his political journey by joining the All Assam Students Union (AASU) in Class 6. Those were the heady days of the Assam agitation. Within a year, he was tasked to carry press releases for the media every evening.

He later grew to own the biggest TV network of Assam. By 1984, he had become the general secretary of AASU's Guwahati unit.In 1993, he joined the Congress under the mentorship of late chief minister Hiteswar Saikia whom he describes as his "political guru".

Since 1996 he has been contesting elections from the Jalukbari constituency. The testimony of his popularity lies in the fact that with every election, his victory margin increases.

Tags: tarun gogoi, himanta biswa sarma
Location: India, Assam, Guwahati (Gauhati)