A four-term former Congress MLA and heavyweight leader of Assam’s tea tribe community Rupjyoti Kurmi Monday joined the BJP, spurring Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to claim many more leaders from rival outfits will join the saffron party inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Welcoming Kurmi, who resigned from the Congress and the state assembly last week, into BJP, Sarma said many leaders and workers of other outfits had already joined the saffron party inspired as they were by Modi’s ideals, hard work and commitment to nation building.
“It is my firm belief that a day will come when all people and organisations of the state will be associated with the BJP and help in building a strong and developed nation," Sarma, the party’s chief strategist for the northeast who assumed the reins of the BJP government in Assam last month, asserted. Kurmi resigned from the Congress and the state assembly on June 18, accusing the party’s national and state leaders of neglecting grassroots workers, youth and marginalised communities. His father late Rupam Kurmi was also a Congressman and minister.
Rupjyoti represented Mariani constituency in Golaghat district for four consecutive terms since 2006 before he shifted allegiance to the BJP. Sarma said Kurmi represents not only the aspirations of the tea tribe community but also the entire state.
“Be it the Assam-Nagaland border issue, development of his constituency and the state, or schemes for the tea tribe community, Kurmi has always been vocal and at the forefront to highlight the issues. We are hopeful that he will continue to work for the development of his constituency and the state," the chief minister said. The former Congress leader, on his part, said he joined the BJP not for the lust of power or position but opportunity to work for the state and its people.
He said as an opposition legislator he criticised the BJP without realising that people had “immense faith" in the ruling party. Kurmi said Sarma’s vision for the indigenous population, for safeguarding their rights, and his views on the growth of minority population that could alter the demography of the state, were some of the other factors that motivated him to join the BJP.
Ajanta Neog, another senior Congress leader and former minister, had joined the BJP in the run up to the assembly elections. The sitting MLA from Golaghat won the seat and became the first woman finance minister of the state after BJP retained power.