PM to decide whether I continue as minister: Sonowal

Shillong, Feb 2 (IANS) BJP leader Sarbananda Sonowal on Tuesday said it was up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to decide if he should relinquish his post as union minister after being named as the party’s Assam chief ministerial candidate.

“This is the desire (whether to continue as union minister) of the prime minister and not my individual choice,” Sonowal told IANS during his visit to the Meghalaya capital after launching the official 12th South Asian Games jingle and ‘Special Cover’ and ‘My Stamp’ by India Post.

On January 28, the BJP parliamentary board tasked Sonowal to ensure a repeat of the party’s 2014 Lok Sabha election performance in the upcoming polls to the 126-member Assam assembly scheduled to be held in April-May.

In the parliamentary polls, Sonowal was credited for the BJP’s best performance in the state, winning seven of the 14 seats and reducing the Congress to just three.

Sonowal, who is also the president of the BJP unit in Assam, said talks were on with all regional parties, including the Asom Gana Parishad to come on the NDA platform.

“We are expecting a landslide victory as this is the only party (BJP) which has ensured development in the northeastern states. I am not going to tell you the figure, but we will get a sizeable number of seats which will be sufficient to form the new government in the state,” he said.

Stating that the people of Assam are fed up with the misrule of the Congress in the state for the past 15 years, Sonowal said: “The people of Assam will ensure the BJP’s victory.

“In the last 15 years, the Congress has done nothing for the people but promoting the culture of nepotism, malpractices and made the system non-operational.”

“I don’t think the people will trust the Congress after witnessing the wrongdoings of the Congress in the past 15 years. The growth is not visible, and the electoral promises they have made were all broken, and they have become a betrayer of the people,” he said.

He said the people of Assam and other northeastern states are now moving towards the BJP to ensure all-round development.

“If we look back at the (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee era, it was the BJP which created a separate ministry of DoNER (Development of North Eastern Region) with an objective to ensure all-round development.

“It was the BJP-led government who also initiated Assam’s Silchar-Saurashtra (East-West) corridor project besides other infrastructure,” he said.

“The efforts of Vajpayee government did not end there and now our prime minister (Modi) has further taken new initiatives to promote the development in the northeastern states. He even ensured that union ministers visit the region every fortnight to ensure the development of the region,” he added.

On the ongoing peace dialogue with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), Sonowal, a former president of the All Assam Students’ Union, said the NDA government was sincere in its efforts to make the initiative result-oriented, which the then Congress-led government failed to do.

He said the NDA government took steps to bring ULFA’s ‘general secretary’ Anup Chetia back to the country from Bangladesh to expedite the peace process.

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