Sarbananda Sonowal made Assam BJP chief, to head election committee

New Delhi: Apparently learning quick lessons from the Bihar debacle, BJP on Saturday appointed Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal as its Assam unit President and also as the head of election management committee ahead of next year’s Assembly polls, signalling that he could be its chief ministerial face.

Making the announcement, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said Himanta Biswa Sarma, a state Congress heavyweight who had recently joined BJP along with many Congress MLAs, will be the committee’s convener.

The party’s decision is a break from its strategy in Bihar where it had not projected a chief ministerial candidate. It had also not formed any statewide election committee and instead put many outsiders as well as local leaders in charge of various zones. A massive loss in Bihar triggered a backlash from within the party over its campaign.

Sonowal currently holds independent charge of Sports and Youths Affairs Ministry.

Javadekar parried a query on whether Sonowal will be the party’s chief ministerial face, saying a decision will be taken by the Parliamentary Board at an appropriate time.

“This is the beginning of our election preparation for Assam. In 2016, BJP will return to its winning ways,” he said.

Party president Amit Shah will go to Dibrugarh on November 27 to attend a party meeting, Javadekar said.

Assam is the only one of the five states, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Tripura being the other four–going to the polls in 2016 where BJP is said to have good chance of being in the fray.