24/05/2016 7:48 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

Assam Gets Its First BJP Chief Minister As Sarbananda Sonowal Takes Oath


Sarbananda Sonowal was on Tuesday sworn in as the 14th chief minister of Assam in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and fourteen chief ministers from other states among other dignitaries at a huge public function at Khanapara field in Assam.

Sonowal, who became the first BJP chief minister of the state was sworn in by Governor Padmanabha Balakrishna Acharya. He took his oath in Assamese.

Along with Sonowal, 10 ministers including from alliance partners Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodo Peoples Front (BPF) also took their oath of office at the function which was also attended by BJP President Amit Shah.

The six from BJP to take oath as ministers were Himanta Biswa Sarma, Chandra Mohan Patowary, Ranjit Dutta, Parimal Suklabaidya, Pallab Lochan Das and Naba Kumar Doley.

The two from AGP to be sworn-in were Atul Bora (Jr) and Kesab Mahanta, while the two from BPF were Pramila Rani Brahma and Rihan Daimary.

Brahma and Daimari took their oaths in Bodo and Suklabaidya in Bengali while the rest, in Assamese.

Outgoing Congress chief minister Tarun Gogoi was also present at the function.

Other dignitaries present on the occasion were senior BJP leader L K Advani, Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Suresh Prabhu, Ram Vilas Paswan, Venkaiah Naidu, Nirmala Seetharaman, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Jitendra Singh, Jayant Sinha, Kiren Rijjiju and V K Singh.

BJP chief ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh), Vasundhara Raje Scindia (Rajasthan), Anandi Ben Patel (Gujarat), Devendra Phadnavis (Maharastra), Manohar Lal Khattar (Haryana), Raman Singh (Chattisgarh), Raghubar Das (Jharkhand), Laxmikant Parsekar (Goa) were present. Also present at the function were chief ministers of alliance parties Prakash Singh Badal (Punjab) and Chandrababu Naidu of Telangana.

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Kaliko Pul and Sikkim Chief Minister P K Chamling were present, besides former Jharkhand chief minister Arjun Munda and former Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi were also present.

From student politics to joining AGP, then switching to BJP and becoming an Union Minister, the new Assam Chief Minister Sarbanada Sonowal's political journey to the top has been a steady climb marked by twists and turns.

A low-profile man but always sporting an infectious smile, 54-year-old Sonowal's name as the party's face for the state Assembly elections came as no surprise as he came with a clean image and no baggage and enjoyed the confidence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A bachelor, Sonowal was included in the Union Cabinet though it left many senior party members from the state none too happy considering that he had joined the BJP only in 2011.

The state unit, however, put up a united front in the elections under Sonowal, who also took charge as the party chief before the polls, to script history as the first state in the North East where the BJP has come to power.

Credited with challenging the controversial Illegal Migrants' Determination by Tribunal (IMDT) Act in the Supreme Court which finally scrapped it, Sonowal's foray into politics began with his joining the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) where he served as its President from 1992 to 1999.

A major figure in the students' politics of the region, Sonowal, a law graduate, also became the Chairman of North East Students' Organisation (NESO) from 1996 to 2000.

From AASU he predictably went on to join the Asom Gana Parishad in 2001, founded by his erstwhile seniors in the students' organisation, and was elected the party's MLA from Upper Assam's Moran constituency in 2001.

In 2004, he went on to successfully contest the Lok Sabha polls wresting the seat for the first time from the Congress by defeating former Union Minister Paban Singh Ghatowar.

He, however, lost the 2009 parliamentary polls to Ghatowar from the same constituency which was once considered a Congress bastion.

Sonowal left the AGP in January 2011 following differences with the party leadership and went on to join the BJP in February 2011 in the presence of then party President Nitin Gadkari and other senior leaders.

He went on to become the BJP state unit President in 2012 and was credited with raising the party's tally to seven from the earlier four and reducing the Congress' margin to three from seven in the 2014 Parliamentary polls.

Sonowal has been also credited with making inroads for the party in erstwhile Congress bastion of the tea districts of Upper Assam by ensuring party wins in Dibrugarh and Jorhat parliamentary constituencies.

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