Himanta Biswa Sarma was on Sunday elected unanimously by the BJP Legislature Party to become the chief minister of Assam and it was a dream come true for the BJP leader, who had aimed for the post long ago. Sarma, who is also the convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance, becomes the chief minister for the first time and will be officially sworn-in on Monday.
Born to Kailash Nath Sarma and Mrinalinin Devi on February 1, 1969 in Jorhat, Himanta’s schooling took place at Natun Saraniya Prathamik Bidyalay, Gandhibasti in Guwahati and he later went to Kamrup Academy in the city. He completed his graduation from Cotton College and post-graduation from Gauhati University. He holds a masters degree in Political Science and has also done an LLB, and a PhD on the topic of North Eastern Council: A Structural and Functional Analysis.
Himanta Biswa Sarma started his political career very early with All Assam Students’ Union (AASU). He delivered his debutant speech at an AASU rally in Patacharkuchi in 1979. He was elected to the body of Kamrup Academy as the assistant general secretary for the first time in 1982-83. This was the first election he ever won. In his final year of high school, in 1984-85, Sarma was elected student body’s general secretary.
During the Assam Agitation he was given more responsibility in the AASU to organise rallies and mobilise students and became Secretary to the AASU’s Guwahati unit. In 1987-88, Himanta became AGS in the Cotton Candy Students’ Union and went on to become the GS thrice in 1988-89, 89-90 and 91-92. This is a record still in his name.
In 1994, he joined the Advisory Committee for Students and Youth Welfare as member secretary. Headquartered in Nehru Stadium, this Committee was chaired by Hiteswar Saikia, then CM and worked for welfare of students and youth clubs in Assam. Around that time, the 25-year-old Himanta Biswa Sarma joined the Congress and went on to contest elections from Jalukbari LAC in 1996, in which he lost.
His first election victory was registered in 2001 from Jalukbari on Congress ticket. He later contested from the same seat in the next two consecutive elections in 2006 and 2011 and won. In 2002, Sarma was made the minister of state (MoS) in the Agriculture Department. Later on in 2006, he became the health minister and was given the portfolios of health and education in 2011.
In July 2014, he resigned from the Tarun Gogoi ministry said he would fight more vigorously for the removal of the chief minister. Sarma had then raised the issue of Tarun Gogoi government’s “anti-people" and resigned from the party when the Congress decided not to remove Tarun Gogoi from the chief minister’s post. Some senior Congress legislators who had earlier backed Sarma did not join his cavalcade to the Raj Bhavan. Later, Himanta and 28 other Congress MLAs went to the Governor and tendered their resignation.
An ambitious Sarma had first made his dream of becoming the chief minister public in 2011 and later began openly revolting when the chief minister launched his son Gaurav. In July 2014, Sarma claimed support of 52 of the Congress party’s 78 legislators and staked claim to become the CLP leader, which was soon turned down by AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
Sarma later joined the BJP in August, 2015. Once Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s most trusted lieutenant, Sarma joined hands with BJP, creating ripples through the rank and file of the ruling Congress party. His move came ahead of the state Assembly elections in April, 2016, in which he fought on BJP ticket and won by a margin of 85,935 votes. He was handed the health portfolio.