Guwahati, Nov. 9: BJP national president Nitin Gadkari today appointed Assam MP Sarbananda Sonowal the head of the party in the state with an eye on the 2014 general elections.
Santanu Bharali, spokes-person for the Assam unit of BJP, told The Telegraph that the outgoing president, Ranjit Dutta, had resigned on health grounds.
Sonowal, AASU leader-turned-AGP MP, who had wrested the Dibrugarh parliamentary seat from the Congress for the first time in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, resigned from the AGP last year citing the latter’s failure over the illegal migrants’ issue and for showing a soft corner for AIUDF chief Maulana Badruddin Ajmal.
His win from Dibrugarh was considered to be very important politically since he had ended the Congress’s domination in the constituency since Independence.
The young leader was given a hero’s welcome by the All Assam Students’ Union and North East Students’ Organisation when the Supreme Court scrapped the controversial IM (DT) Act in 2005 on the basis of a petition filed by Sonowal.
Sources said his appointment was aimed at making the BJP, which is otherwise perceived as a communal party in Assam, more popular and to help garner votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Sources said with Sonowal now being entrusted with the responsibility of leading BJP in Assam, he could attract some young and “disgruntled” AGP leaders to the national party’s camp.
An elated Sonowal said as the president of BJP he would fight for the burning issues of illegal influx, floods and erosion plaguing Assam.
He said his first priority would to safeguard the rights of indigenous people and pressure the governments in Delhi and Dispur to immediately stop illegal migration.