GUWAHATI: Seventy-two kilometers of march (padyatra), 124 km of cycling, 294 km of road show, 102 public meetings addressed in 95 constituencies within a span of only 28 days. All these, and more made Himanta Biswa Sarma the undisputed leader of the people, as Jalukbari elected him with a new record margin to the Assam assembly today for the fifth straight term.
After defeating Asom Gana Parishad strongman Bhrigu Kumar Phukan by a margin of 78,000 votes as a Congress candidate in 2001, there has been no looking back for the BJP stalwart who had always polled even more votes in every election to record a 1,01,911-vote margin today.
While Sarma polled 1,30,762 votes, his nearest rival Romen Ch. Borthakur of the Congress managed to poll only 28,851. In the 2016 Assam assembly election, Sarma won from the constituency by a margin of 85,935 votes.
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Sarma tweeted: “won Jalukbari LAC-by a margin of 1,01,911 votes. It would be my Privilege to represent the constituency for 5th consecutive term. My gratitude to the people of Jalukbari, Honble PM @narendramodi, HM @AmitShah and national president @JPNadda.”
Sarma often claims it rightly when he says, “the people of Jalukbari reciprocate with so much more love on me than what I manage to shower on them”. He also claims to be no more a representative of Jalukbari, but a member of every household in the constituency.
In the 28 days of hectic campaign, Sarma reserved the last two days for his home constituency. The Election Commission had, however, robbed him of one day by imposing a 24-hour suspension leaving him with only one day. His wife Riniki Bhuyan Sarma managed the campaign in the constituency though.
His claim was also endorsed in a recent survey where he was found to be the most popular chief ministerial candidate in the state, especially after his crusade against COVID-19 pandemic. He was preferred by 20 per cent people, while incumbent chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal was preferred by little over 19 per cent. A Congress man was preferred by little over 17 per cent people.
Not only has Sarma won it for himself, his hard work of one month was also enough to help the BJP and its allies tide over the so-called anti-incumbency factor as well as the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act sentiment of the people of Assam. His mix up with the common people over the campaign trail made the leader even more popular than what he was.
Although the Congress tried to play the anti-CAA card, the man who has been instrumental in forming NDA governments in all eight north eastern states made best use of the grand old party’s alliance with the Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front as the trump card.
Although there had been some discontentment within the BJP when party tickets were issued to candidates mostly viewed as loyal to Sarma, the party high command’s decisions proved right as the man behind did not let them down anywhere. Almost all the candidates who were presumed to have been allotted tickets at Sarma’s behest, have registered victories.
Even in his and party’s thumping victory, Sarma preferred not to step aside from his crusade against COVID-19, that is on a surge, by reacting to the victory with an appeal to party workers not to congregate for celebrations.
“After the #AssamPolls results are out, I humbly urge all to kindly follow restraint and do not get together for celebrations. Please let’s all remember we are in the midst of #COVID19 pandemic and how Hon PM Sri @narendramodi is leading this battle from the front,” Sarma tweeted.
Retaining the same alliance in power, people of Assam will now keep fingers crossed to see a change of face at the helm to fulfill the dreams Sarma had shown them.