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Assam: Many old faces in new Sarbananda Sonowal Cabinet

Another old hand in the Sonowal cabinet is Chandra Mohan Patowari (58), who had earlier served as health minister and agriculture minister in the previous AGP governments.

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap |
Updated: May 25, 2016 8:05:41 am
Sarbananda Sonowal, Sonowal BJP, Sonowal swearing in, Assam Sonowal, bharatiya janata party, Assam, assam cm, BJP assam, Assam BJP CM, Sarbananda Sonowal assam CM, assam elections, Narendra modi, Assam CM live, LIVE SOnowal swearing in, Chief Minister Sonowal, Sonowal news, Assam swearing in, Assam LIVE updates Assam Governor PB Acharya greets newly sowrn-in Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal after administering him oath of office at the swearing-in ceremony at Veterinary College play ground, Khanapara in Guwahati on Tuesday. (Source: PTI Photo)

Though newly-appointed Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is heading the first BJP-led government in the state, when it comes to his team members – eight cabinet ministers and two ministers of state – most of them are not just veterans, but also hold record of having discharged their duties as ministers quite remarkably in the past.

Sonowal’s right hand man Himanta Biswa Sarma (47), a former Congress leader who was appointed the BJP’s campaign committee convenor within a few months of his joining the party for the just-concluded historic Assam elections, for instance is said to be the most successful health and education minister Assam ever had.

Sarma, a PhD in political science who also holds a Law degree, had first pivoted the country’s first programme of gifting laptops to over three lakh students securing 60 per cent and above in the state board Class X between 2002 and 2015. Assam also witnessed establishment of several new universities, medical and engineering colleges during his tenure, apart from seeing a free and fair recruitment of school teachers. As health minister on the other hand he had introduced several new schemes targeted at reducing the alarming IMR and MMR in the state.

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Another old hand in the Sonowal cabinet is Chandra Mohan Patowari (58), who had earlier served as health minister (1985-87) and agriculture minister (1996-2001) in the previous AGP governments. Patowari, a former AGP president who joined the BJP in 2014, also holds the distinction of ensuring for the first time surplus production of rice in Assam in 1999-2001.

Senior Bodo People’s Front (BPF) leader and five-time MLA from Kokrajhar (East), Pramila Rani Brahma (65) too had served as an agriculture minister (2011-14) in the Congress-BPF government. The other BPF member in the Sonowal cabinet is Rihan Daimary (54) who had served as a public health minister in the Cong-BPF government in 2006-11.

The two AGP members who have found place in Sonowal’s BJP-led government – Atul Bora and Keshab Mahanta – however are veteran politicians, but had never been ministers. While both, like Sonowal, are also former presidents of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), Mahanta (56) also holds record of having defeated Tarun Gogoi in Kaliabor in the 1996 Lok Sabha elections. Currently Bora and Mahanta are president and working president respectively of the AGP.

Interestingly, the remaining four members of the Sonowal cabinet – Ranjit Dutta, Parimal Suklabaidya, Pallab Lochan Das and Naba Kumar Doley – who are all BJP members, were members of the state assembly in the past too, but had not served as ministers. Among them again, while Doley was elected in 2011 on an AGP ticket, Das was a Congress MLA in 2011. Ranjit Dutta on the other hand is also a former BJP state president.

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