New Delhi: In a new twist in its northeast politics, the BJP on Friday dropped a broad hint of keeping its choice open on who will be the next chief minister of Assam if it wins the Assembly election for the second term.
In a list of 70 candidates cleared by the party's central election committee is also Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who defected to the BJP from the Congress in 2015 and tirelessly worked for the BJP to sweep other northeastern states, gaining credibility as a kingmaker, with an earlier speculation that he may be inducted by Prime Minister Modi in his Union Cabinet for helping the BJP spread its governments in the northeast.
Sarma (52), who is to be fielded from Jalukbari in the last phase of the election, may become a contender for the chief minister's post as the party leadership has refused to declared a second term to Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal (59) who has been alloted Majuli ST seat to contest.
Assam BJP President Ranjeet Kumar Dass will contest from Patacharkuchi in the third phase, BJP Headquarter general secretary Arun Singh announced while also releasing 67 names of other candidates to contest in the first two phases.
The nominations for the second phase began on Friday for the polling on April 1 while nominations for the first phase for polling on March 27 are to close next Tuesday.
The remaining 21 candidates to be fielded in the last round on April 6 will be announced later, Singh said.
The candidates announced on Friday include 37 to contest in the first phase and 30 in the second phase.