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This article is more than 5 month old.

COVID, corruption charges among key challenges that Himanta Biswa Sarma faces as Assam CM

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Himamta Biswa Sarma was sworn in with 13 Cabinet ministers as the 15th Assam CM. He has been instrumental in leading the BJP charge in the North East, and has been justly rewarded by his party. However, the road ahead is a tough one for Sarma.

COVID, corruption charges among key challenges that Himanta Biswa Sarma faces as Assam CM
Himanta Biswa Sarma was sworn in as the new chief minister of Assam on May 10 along with 13 members of his Cabinet. Sarma, who held the key portfolios of finance, health and education in the previous government, succeeded Sarbananda Sonowal as the 15th chief minister.
Sarma, who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2015 after spending nearly two decades in Congress, has been rewarded for leading the party to two consecutive wins in Assam and in other states in the region as the convenor of the Northeast Democratic Alliance (NEDA). He was instrumental in the BJP’s forays in Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura Mizoram, Manipur, and Meghalaya.
This is a rare occasion in the history of BJP that a former Congress leader has been made the CM. The challenges are many for Sarma as he takes over the reins in Assam.
A list follows:
Rise in COVID-19 Cases
Though he has been credited with deftly handling the COVID-19 crisis in Assam as the health minister in the previous Sonowal government, a lot needs to be done to fight the second wave. Assam reported over 32,000 active cases and 1,500 deaths till date. The new CM has his task cut out to ensure these cases do not go up and the death rate plateaus.
Corruption Charges
While Sonowal was acknowledged as someone who believed in zero-corruption governance, there are a few allegations against Sarma. His name cropped up in the Saradha chit fund scam. Further, allegations of bribery were made against him by officials of Louis Berger, a consulting firm for a water supply project in Guwahati, which tarnished his image to some extent.
Religious Identity
Sarma went hammer and tongs on this issue in the elections by highlighting AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal as the biggest threat to Assam. By changing the stance from Assamese versus illegal immigrants to Hindu versus Muslims, the new CM has to now ensure welfare and development for all.
CAA and NRC
Sarma has the tough task of delivering on the promises of removing illegal Bangladeshis from the voter list as his party used this as a major political plank to return to power in Assam. The two slogans that struck a chord in the hearts of the Assamese, Jai Shri Ram and Joi Aai Axom (Hail Mother Assam) also worked in his favour. Sarma now has to do a balancing act like his predecessor, who did not allow anything untoward to happen in Assam.
 
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