Addressing his first press conference after the oath-taking ceremony, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that as promised by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in its poll manifesto, the state government would seek re-verification of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Released in 2019 amid countrywide protests, the document lists Indian citizens in Assam with exclusion of 1.9 million applicants.
“We want 20 percent re-verification of the list in districts bordering Bangladesh and 10 percent re-verification in other districts,” Sarma said.
Speaking on the health crisis unfolding in India, the CM said that he will hold the first cabinet meeting on Tuesday, and discuss the COVID-19 situation in the state, adding that “we’ll take all measures required to contain COVID outbreak.”
“Daily cases in Assam have crossed 5,000. The situation in Assam will affect other northeastern states as well,” Sarma said.
The CM also spoke on the assurance of the Assam administration enacting laws on “love jihad” and “land jihad”.
Sarma went on to appeal to the chief of United Liberation Front of Asom - Independent (ULFA-I) Paresh Barua to abjure violence and to “come to the discussion table.”
Further, Sarma claimed that his aim is “to make Assam one of top five Indian states in five years” and assured that his government would be a “pro-active government which will be there for you at 12 am, at 5 am and also at 2 pm.”
Sarma Sworn-in as CM, 13 MLAs Take Oath
Sarma, the convener of the North-East Democratic Alliance, was sworn-in as the 15th chief minister of Assam on Monday, 10 May. He was administered the oath by Governor Jagdish Mukhi.
Meanwhile, BJP national president JP Nadda was present at the ceremony, as was former CM Sarbananda Sonowal.
CM of Tripura Biplab Deb, Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma, Manipur CM N Biren Singh, and Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio were also present at the swearing-in ceremony of Sarma and of his 13 Cabinet ministers.
BJP’s choice of Sarma as Assam’s CM was made on Sunday, 9 May, after a week-long deadlock. On Saturday, the BJP top brass had met both Sonowal and Sarma to resolve the impasse.
The saffron party returned to power in Assam for a second consecutive term on 2 May, winning 60 out of 126 seats, while alliance partners AGP won nine and UPPL six seats each.and
Modi Congratulates Sarma
Tweeting his congratulations to Himanta Biswa Sarma, PM Narendra Modi, on Monday, wrote:
“Congratulations to @himantabiswa Ji and the other Ministers who took oath today. I am confident this team will add momentum to the development journey of Assam and fulfil aspirations of the people.[sic.]”
He also claimed that former CM “Sarbananda Sonawal’s contribution towards Assam’s progress and strengthening the party in the state is immense.”
Sarma’s Political Career
Himanta Biswa Sarma was a student of Guwahati’s Government Law College, after which he went on to finish his PhD from Gauhati University. He was also a practising lawyer at the Gauhati High Court between 1996 to 2001.
Sarma’s political career started quite early in his youth with the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) in 1980. In 2001, he contested polls from Guwahati's Jalukbari
constituency as a Congress candidate and made it his stronghold.
Although he held several portfolios in the Congress government and was even considered to be a strategist for the party, he joined the BJP after falling out with former Congress CM Tarun Gogoi.