BJP to provide viable alternative to Cong in Assam: Sonowal

Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal did not rule out a tie up with AGP in Assembly elections early next year in Assam.

New Delhi: Virtually anointed as the Chief Ministerial face in Assam, Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal does not rule out a tie up with AGP in Assembly elections early next year in the state and hinted that BJP will try to rope in other small groups for an alliance.

Appointed as BJP's Assam unit Chief and head of the campaign committee, Sonowal does not want to focus on issues like who will be the chief minister and instead concentrate on ensuring victory for the party to rid "corrupt" Congress regime.

"We are ready to talk to all political parties which believe in the ideology of BJP.Our main focus will be to formulate a voter friendly strategy, a viable alternative in which people get confidence and feel comfortable and BJP gets maximum votes," he told PTI today in an interview, a day after the BJP announcement.

Sonowal, 53, was replying to a question on whether BJP will join hands with AGP to form an alliance to provide an alternative to Congress, which has been ruling the state for last 15 years.

Sonowal was an MLA and MP in AGP before joining BJP in 2011.

He had earlier served as BJP's Assam unit chief in 2013-14 and under his stewardship BJP won seven out of 14 Lok Sabha seats in last Parliamentary polls.

Asked whether he will be the BJP's Chief Ministerial candidate for the coming polls, the Union Sports Minister said he was given the responsibility of state unit President and campaign committee head and he would discharge his duties with all sincerity and dedication and would not like to think about anything else.

"My priority is now to take along all sections of society and BJP workers and leaders and win the election. Other issues will be decided by BJP Parliamentary Board," he said.

Sonowal, who was credited for successfully fighting in Supreme Court against a controversial central Act (IMDT), a major hurdle for detection and deportation of illegal migrants from Bangladesh, and delete it from statute book, said development through good governance and "rampant corruption" during 15 year Congress rule will be the two key poll planks in the coming assembly elections in the state.

"Development of all sections of people through good governance, justice to everyone and promote value of democracy will be our main campaign theme," he said over phone from Dibrugarh.

Sonowal said young and old alike in Assam are fed up with the alleged rampant corruption of the Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government and BJP would expose how Congress leaders "looted public money" at the cost of common people.

"During the 15 year of Gogoi rule, it was only Congress leaders -- from ministers to Panchayat leaders -- who got all the benefits while common people suffered.There is complete breakdown of administration," he charged.

The BJP leader said he would take all sections of people in both Brahmaputra and Barak valley, all leaders and workers of BJP into confidence and build a formidable team to fight the election to defeat the Congress.

Election to the Assam's 126-member assembly will be held in April-May 2016.

"We will try to win heart of every citizen of Assam. We will provide a viable alternative which will be development oriented and totally corruption-free," said Sonowal, a tribal from the Sonowal-Kachari community who was president of influential All Assam Students' Union.

He thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah for reposing faith in him and said that with the blessings of people of Assam he would try his best to bring a change in the state.

Assam is the only one of the five states, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Tripura being the other four--going to the polls in 2016 where BJP is said to be in a good position to give a tough fight to ruling Congress.

After winning Assembly elections in four states in 2014, the BJP has suffered massive defeats in Delhi and Bihar that has invigorated the opposition.

The BJP decision appointing Sonowal state unit chief and head of campaign committee, is a break from its strategy in Bihar where it had not projected a chief ministerial candidate.

It had also not formed any statewide election committee and instead put many outsiders as well as local leaders in charge of various zones.

A massive loss in Bihar triggered a backlash from within the party over its campaign.

Sonowal currently holds?independent charge of Sports and Youths Affairs Ministry.

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