Holding important portfolios in the last state government, including finance, health and education, Sarma's claim to the top post in the state was accepted by the BJP ahead of incumbent CM Sarbananda Sonowal, after a large majority of the BJP MLAs sided with him.
Newly sworn in as Assam chief minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma is the BJP’s most influential leader in the North-East and the man credited with helping the party establish itself in a region where it had no presence till not so long ago.
Holding important portfolios in the last state government, including finance, health and education, Sarma’s claim to the top post in the state was accepted by the BJP ahead of incumbent CM Sarbananda Sonowal, after a large majority of the BJP MLAs sided with him.
On Wednesday evening, Sarma will be guest at The Indian Express e-Adda. The session will be moderated by Executive Director, Indian Express Group, Anant Goenka and National Opinion Editor, Indian Express, Vandita Mishra.
As Health Minister, Sarma, 52, handled the first Covid surge and has announced that battling the coronavirus will be his government’s top priority. He has also kept the crucial
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Home portfolio with him, and had an early success when the ULFA released an abducted ONGC employee soon after Sarma made an appeal to its chief Parua Baruah. The CM has also invited the Barua faction of ULFA for peace talks.
Courtesy his previous stint, Sarma’s name is also identified with some of the biggest development schemes under the BJP government.
Known to speak his mind, the CM has said the BJP government remains firm on its demand that the published and controversial National Register of Citizens (NRC) be re-verified. The BJP’s successful delicate balancing act between the NRC and its other contentious plan, of Citizenship (Amendment) Act, is also credited to Sarma.
After he walked over from the Congress to the BJP, the party had made him the convenor of the BJP-led NEDA (North East Democratic Alliance), of regional parties. In 2019, Sarma proved the BJP right by swinging 17 out of 24 Lok Sabha seats in the Northeast for the party. His hand is seen in the BJP forming governments in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Tripura, and making alliance governments in Nagaland and Meghalaya. He has also been indirectly involved in the Centre’s ongoing peace talks with Naga insurgent groups.
Sarma has also authored four books, the last one released in February. He and his wife Riniki, a media entrepreneur, have two children.
Express Adda involves interactions with people at the centre of change, and has earlier featured, among others, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, CNN host Fareed Zakaria, actor Pankaj Tripathi, economist N K Singh, CMD of Kotak Mahindra Bank Uday Kotak, and writer and Morgan Stanley strategist Ruchir Sharma. During the pandemic, the Adda is being held virtually.