After winning a fifth consecutive term in Assembly polls, BJP leader and senior Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday said that he did not want to talk about who would become the next chief minister of the state as the decision will be made by the party's central parliamentary board.
The BJP had projected the then union minister Sarbananda Sonowal as its chief minister before the assembly polls in 2016, but the ruling party did not announce any name for the top post this time. Speculations were rife that Sarma would be the new CM.
"I do not want to talk about this. Our parliamentary board will decide about it," Sarma told reporters when asked if he would be the next chief minister.
The Congress has repeatedly claimed during campaigning that the state has "two chief ministers", in an apparent reference to rumours of Sarma and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal acting as rival power centres.
Sarma held key portfolios such as health, finance, education and PWD in the outgoing government, and is the convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), the NDA's version in the region.
He defeated his nearest Congress rival Romen Chandra Borthakur of the Congress by 1,01,911 votes to retain the Jalukbari constituency.
He thanked the people of Assam for the mandate in favour of the BJP and said that retaining the power defying anti-incumbency sentiment is an achievement for any political party.
"This verdict is for protecting the culture and civilisation of Assam. The hopes and promises we made during the election campaign will be fulfilled in the next five years," Sarma said.
To a question on the opposition which appears to be stronger this time, he said that it is a good sign for the health of democracy.
On anti-CAA activist Akhil Gogoi winning the Sibsagar seat, Sarma said, "He is stepping into democratic politics from student and agitation politics. I hope that he will not indulge in unparliamentary politics anymore and we won't see burning of tyres."
Gogoi, the president of the newly formed Raijor Dal, is currently in jail in connection with cases related to violence that erupted during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in late 2019.
Asked about another newcomer Assam Jatiya Parishad chief Lurinjyoti Gogoi losing both Naharkatia and Duliajan seats, the BJP leader said the former AASU leader has a long future.
Sarma attacked the BJP's former ally, the Bodoland People's Front (BPF), for joining hands with the Congress without resigning from the government.
"Today, all three BPF ministers have been defeated.
Despite being ministers, they contested and campaigned against fellow ministers. They could not retain their dignity," he added.