“I promise to strive to make Assam free of Bangladeshi infiltrators, corruption and pollution.” This is what Sarbananda Sonowal, Assam’s first BJP Chief Minister, announced soon after taking oath here on Tuesday.
The BJP had, during its election campaign, almost singularly harped on the Bangladeshi influx issue.
Taking oath in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and other dignitaries at a huge public function at Khanapara field here, Sonowal, 54, also promised to ensure social and financial security. “Our government will work towards ensuring social and financial security of every person living in Assam. And I assure you, we will not do anything that will bring sorrow to your mind,” he said.
He spoke for just nine minutes, immediately after PM Modi delivered a 14-minute speech, and invoked a list of national heroes of the state — including Ahom dynasty founder Chao-lung Sukapha, General Lachit Barphukan (who inflicted the most crushing defeat on the Mughals in 1671), 16th-century saint-reformers Sankaradeva and Madhavadeva, Sufi saint Ajan Faqir, founder of modern Assamese culture Jyotiprasad Agarwala, and singer-lyricist Bhupen Hazarika.
Keeping in mind the sentiments of the people who had hailed him as ‘jatiya nayak’ (national hero) for having moved a petition that led to scrapping of the controversial Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act by the Supreme Court in 2005, as also the fact that the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) had indirectly played a big role in his victory in this election, Sonowal paid tribute to the martyrs of the anti-foreigners’ movement of 1979-85. “I also pay my tributes to all those belonging to the BJP and Sangh who had laid down their lives for the country,” he said.