Former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today reached Delhi after “receiving a call” to be present in the national capital for his likely induction in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet which may happen on tomorrow, according to BJP insiders. BJP Parliamentarian from Inner Manipur, Dr RK Ranjan Singh, too, has been summoned, the party’s sources in the state said.
Mr Sonowal arrived in New Delhi by Tuesday afternoon amid speculation that he may get a plum ministry. Party insiders indicate that his induction was a “done deal”.
This was decided, they said, when the BJP high command decided to make Himanta Biswa Sarma the new Assam Chief Minister. Mr Sonowal was then tipped off about a “new responsibility at the Centre”, said one of his close aides.
Mr Sonowal was President of the All-Assam Student Union between 1992 and 1999. He then left the body to begin his political career by joining the Asom Gana Parishad, getting elected MLA from Moran in 2001. Three years later, in 2004, he entered the Lok Sabha from Dibrugarh. He returned to the lower house again in 2014 from Lakhimpur, becoming the Union Sports Minister during Prime Minister Modi’s first term.
Ahead of the 2016 assembly polls, Mr Sonowal was made the BJP’s face in Assam. The party, along with its allies, then went on to form its first government in the state.
Environmentalist-turned-politician Dr RK Ranjan Singh, meanwhile, is likely to be named a minister of state, Manipur BJP sources said.
This move, they said, relates to the 2022 Assembly polls, amid rumblings within the party’s Manipur unit, especially over Chief Minister N Biren Singh’s leadership. The BJP has, however, kept its trust in Mr Singh, a Congress turncoat.
It now seeks to send out a message that the state’s voters were being taken seriously, sources said.
Several positions in the Cabinet are now vacant due to the exit of the Shiv Sena and the Shiromani Akali Dal and the demise of Lok Janshakti Party founder Ram Vilas Paswan.