NEW DELHI, Nov 21 - Setting at rest all speculations, the BJP today constituted its election team in Assam, replacing State president Siddhartha Bhattacharyya with Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Sarbananda Sonowal, besides appointing Himanta Biswa Sarma as the convener of the Election Management Committee.
The organisational restructuring by the BJP soon after losing the Bihar polls, was along expected lines as the party�s central leadership, after considering the names of several State leaders, opted for Sonowal in a fresh bid to revitalise the organisation.
The party�s central leadership was unhappy with Bhattacharyya�s style of functioning, flooded as it was with complaints from the State unit. Six of the seven BJP Lok Sabha members had submitted a written petition to the central leadership during the last session of the Parliament, pleading to replace Bhattacharyya.
To Bhattacharyya�s credit, he managed to split the ruling Congress party by bringing over Himanta Biswa Sarma and nine other MLAs. He also managed to snatch away the Tiwa and Dima Hasao autonomous councils from the Congress.
However, the disconnect between the State president and the party became obvious to the central leadership and wide-ranging consultations were held, including with the RSS, before the decision was taken.
Several rounds of discussions were also held between general secretary in-charge Ram Madhav and Ram Lal with Sonowal and other MPs. A day ahead of the announcement of the Bihar poll results, Sonowal was summoned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and an hour-long discussion was held, where a stock-taking exercise was conducted.
Sources said Sonowal was reluctant to quit as minister and take over the post of president. If sources are to be believed, the initial choice was Lok Sabha member Ramen Deka, but he expressed his reluctance to go back to State politics and instead expressed his desire for the post of a minister at the Centre.
A compromise formula was devised and sources said there was no need for Sonowal to resign, as there was a past precedent of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh holding on to the post of party president. There is a provision in the party�s constitution that he can continue to hold two posts for six months, said another leader.
Announcing the new team, Minister of State for Environment and Forest Prakash Javadekar this afternoon said that according to the directions of national president Amit Shah, Sarbananda Sonowal is the new president of the State unit, while Siddharth Bhattacharyya has been appointed as the national spokesperson for the North-east.
The Election Management Committee will be headed by chairman Sarbananda Sonowal, while Ramen Deka, Rajen Gohain and Siddharth Bhattacharyya have been appointed as vice chairmen. Himanta Biswa Sarma has been appointed as the convener of the committee.
Lok Sabha members Bijoya Chakraborty and Kamakhya Tasa, besides Rajdeep Ray, Vijay Gupta and Mohd Awal have been made members of the committee.