GUWAHATI: New Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma assumed office on Monday with a bare-bones 14-member cabinet, including10 from BJP, and a to-do list that gives the battle against Covid-19 top priority and promises a “proactive government” that will fulfil all of BJP’s promises –– from a “rectified NRC” to laws against “love and land jihad”.
Sarma, who held the health portfolio along with finance, education and PWD in the erstwhile Sarbananda Sonowal government, said after being sworn in at the Sankardev Kalakshetra cultural complex that “both the CM and health minister will together together aggressively fight the battle against the pandemic”.
Besides Sarma’s chosen six from among the newly elected MLAs who weren’t part of the previous government, governor Jagdish Mukhi administered the oath of office to seven others who had held various positions in Sonowal’s ministry. Ajanta Neog, who switched from Congress to BJP ahead of the polls, is the only woman in the new government.
Sarma has the option of allocating five more berths.
The old faces who made the cut include Parimal Suklabaidya, Chandramohan Patowary, Sanjay Kishan, Jogen Mohan and Pijush Hazarika. Sarma retained two members of ally Asom Gana Parishad — party president Atul Bora and fellow veteran Keshab Mahanta — and Urkhao Gwra Brahma from new partner United People’s Party Liberal.
Besides committing himself to “controlling” the spread of Covid not just in Assam but the entire northeast, Sarma appealed to Ulfa (I) chief Paresh Baruah and all other militant groups to lay down arms and become a part of the mainstream.