New Delhi: Union minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who was on Thursday appointed as BJP's chief ministerial candidate for Assam, expressed confidence that the party would dethrone the Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government from the state.
"I am confident that the BJP will defeat the Congress in the coming assembly election and will make history in Assam," he told PTI, hours after the BJP Parliamentary Board announced the decision.
Election to the 126 member Assam assembly will be held in April-May.
Sonowal said that corruption was at its peak in Assam while there has been little development during the 15 years of Congress rule in the state.
"We will provide a corruption-free, development oriented government to the people of Assam," he said.
The Union Minister for Sports expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and other members of the BJP Parliamentary Board for bestowing him with the key responsibility.
"With the blessings of the Prime Minister and other leaders, the BJP will win the assembly election in Assam," he said.
BJP had won seven Lok Sabha seats out of 14 in Assam in 2014 when Sonowal was the state unit president.
"The people of Assam know Sarbananda Sonowal as a 'national hero'. The parliamentary board has decided that the party will fight the Assam polls in his leadership...BJP is going to form its government in Assam," BJP General Secretary JP Nadda, accompanied by party's national secretary Shrikant Sharma, said.
The decision reflects a strategic shift in the party's approach to contesting state assembly elections after ignoring state leadership and excessive focus on central leaders was blamed by many for its debacle in Bihar polls.
Barring the Delhi assembly polls, during which it had inducted Kiran Bedi into the party at the last minute and made her the chief ministerial candidate, BJP has not named a leader for state elections and instead sought votes in Modi's name after he emerged as its preeminent leader and Shah took over as its president.
Asked if the party will name chief ministerial candidates for other poll-bound states — West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Puduchery — as well, Nadda said the issue was deliberated upon on Thursday and a decision will be taken later.
DNA reported that of the five poll-bound states, it is Assam that the BJP is really hoping to win. The party has set a target of 84 seats, two-thirds seats, in the 126-strong assembly. A senior BJP leader told DNA that Sonowal's clean image means that everyone is willing to accept him.
Sonowal (53) currently holds independent charge of Sports and Youth Affairs Ministry. Sonowal was All Assam Students Union president and AGP leader before joining BJP in 2011. He headed the party's Assam unit before he was made a minister in the Narendra Modi government.
He was appointed Assam BJP chief in November.
Among the five states going to polls in a few months, Assam offers the best hope to the saffron outfit after it emerged as the single largest party there during the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.
With inputs from PTI