The swearing-in ceremony of Sarbananda Sonowal as Assam Chief Minister couldn't have come at a more appropriate time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah—coinciding with the celebrations of the Modi government's two years in office.
The fact that the Prime Minister landed there straight after finishing a trip to Iran is indicative of the value the BJP attaches to this occasion. 24 May, 2016 for the BJP perhaps is as significant as 26 May, 2014. It was thus not surprising that the entire BJP and NDA brass including LK Advani, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and all chief party and alliance partners were present on the dais to grace the occasion.
The party also made a departure from the usual protocol. Soon after the official swearing in ceremony was over and Governor left the venue, the top brass including the Prime Minister addressed the audience. But this was no exception, this has been done before at some places by the BJP in the past and by Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi in 2015.
Two years ago, Narendra Modi had assumed office with an absolute majority. On Tuesday, the BJP opened new frontiers in the east or in the north-east by making its first ever government in Assam with two thirds majority with its allies. This was also an occasion for the BJP to declare — though not in so many words that the humiliating losses in Delhi and Bihar were a thing of past for it — that they had learnt some lessons from there, did the corrections required and moved on. In the recent elections, the party had improved its performance, opened its account in Kerala and also won a few seats in West Bengal. The BJP so far was a 'national' party only in letter, now it can claim that it is a national party also in spirit.
The euphoria in the BJP after a resounding victory in Assam was similar to that of 2008 when it had for the first time triumphed across Vindhyas in Karnataka. But then the BJP was in opposition at the Centre and leadership structure at the Centre was mired with some confusion. Five years later owing to factional fights, alleged corruption charges against its leader BS Yeddyurappa, the BJP lost that advantage to the Congress. As of now, it is only big state which Congress rules today.
The three other landmark dates for the BJP during Vajpayee era would be in terms of reaching new frontiers when it formed governments at the centre, 1996 (13 days) 1998 (13 months) and in 1999, as also a successfully running a coalition government for full term.
LK Advani's Ram Rath Yatra in 1990 and BJP taking a quantum leap in its numbers in Parliament after being reduced to two in 1984 elections held in the immediate aftermath of India Gandhi's assassination was one highpoint, which party leaders always relish to talk. The BJP came to power in Hindi heartland states but lost them after a disputed Babri Masjid was demolished in December 1992. Compared to the Congress and Left, the BJP in its current avatar is only three and half decades old. The BJP in its present avatar was founded in 1980 after it was forced to move out from Janata Party on questions of twin membership. For about three years the BJP's erstwhile avatar Jan Sangh had merged its identity Janata Party at the behest of Jaiprakash Narayan.
The swearing-in celebrations for a BJP government in Assam is perhaps particularly sweeter for Modi not because he is the unquestioned leader of the party and the Prime Minister, but because he breached the eastward jinx for the party just as he had breached another jinx for the party as Gujarat chief minister — a BJP leader winning elections for the second successive term.
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Updated Date: May 24, 2016 18:57:36 IST