Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday claimed that before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to concentrate on state politics for the sake of development of the entire North-eastern region. The state BJP had suggested that Sarma, then a Cabinet minister in Assam, contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls but Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah dissuaded him, he said.
At that time, the chief minister was Sarbananda Sonowal. After the 2021 Assembly election, Sarma became the CM and Sonowal was elected to the Rajya Sabha and later made a Union minister. Launching a book on Modi, Sarma said, “It was the time for ticket distribution for the Lok Sabha elections (of 2019). Our state committee suggested that I contest the polls.” That night, Sarma said, he conferred privately with Modi and Shah during which the prime minister asked him to continue in Assam politics. At that time, Modi was seeking a second term as prime minister.
“Modi ji said that Lok Sabha seat-wise North East is not so important. It is not vital for electoral politics, but for the development of the country, the progress of North East is essential. For taking North East to the top level of development, he wanted us not to leave the region and continue working here,” the CM said. Sarma’s name was suggested by the BJP state election committee for the Tezpur Lok Sabha constituency in 2019. Launching the book, ‘Modi@20: Dreams Meet Delivery’ which chronicles Modi’s journey from a Gujarat chief minister to the country’s prime minister, Sarma said that the North-eastern region holds a special place for him.
“It was just yesterday that Karnataka Chief Minister (Basavraj) Bommai told me that Modi ji was enquiring from him about students from the North East during a programme at a university in Bengaluru a few days back. “Modi ji did not ask about students from Uttar Pradesh or Gujarat. But his concern was for students from here. That is his level of attachment for the region,” Sarma said. He requested the publisher of the book, which contains articles by eminent personalities who have worked with or known Modi closely, to translate it into Assamese for its wider reach in the state.
Later, in a series of Tweets, Sarma said, “Modi ji has made significant contribution to the rise of BJP. In 2013, BJP had 4 CMs of its own & 1 CM of NDA alliance. Today, BJP has 12 CMs on its own & 6 CMs of allied parties. It offers a yardstick of how Modi ji’s leadership has expanded BJP's social & geographical landscape.” What brought Modi to power is a matter of relentless pursuit for political analysts, the chief minister said. “There are many factors. It was because of a message taken to every street by millions of non-political volunteers besides BJP’s karyakartas. It was due to the substance of Modi ji's message,” he wrote in a Twitter post. Olympic medallists PV Sindhu and Lovlina Borgohain, sportspersons Hima Das and Amlan Borgohain and other dignitaries were present at the programme.
(With PTI Inputs)