INTERVIEW| Hum sath sath hain: Sarbananda on Himanta Biswa & Dibrugarh Lok Sabha Seat

Sonowal talks in detail about his upbringing in Dibrugarh, his equation with Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, and the win probability in the 14 Assam seats as well as opposition to the CAA.

| Updated: 08 April, 2024 5:29 pm IST
Sarbananda Sonowal excusively speaks to The New Indian's Executive Editor Rohan Dua

Dibrugarh, Assam:  As The New Indian team travels in the upper reaches of Assam, including the key constituencies of Dibrugarh and Jorhat, Union minister of port, shipping & waterways and former Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal speaks to Executive Editor Rohan Dua, in the middle of heavy electioneering outside the plush tea gardens as he replaces his cabinet colleague and incumbent MP and Minister of State (Oil and Petroleum), Rameshwar Teli from his home turf Dibrugarh.

Sonowal talks in detail about his upbringing in Dibrugarh, his equation with Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, and the win probability in the 14 Assam seats as well as opposition to the CAA.

Here is the excerpt from the interview 

Rohan Dua: After former PM Manmohan Singh, you are the first to get such a big post from Assam in Delhi. Your love for Narendra Modi is visible. How proud are you? How satisfied do you feel that the PM has put so much faith in you?

Sarbanda Sonowal: Modi is an incredible politician. He has brought a new revolution in the country’s development. He is the most devoted, dedicated, motivated, honest, committed, and hardworking person. His unwavering efforts, honesty, and commitment have endeared him to the people of the country.

Rohan Dua: When you came from Dibrugarh, Asom Gana Parishad, after being elected, do you remember the struggle to become the first-time MP? And then you came again in 2014 and now this time. How much difference do you see in the fight and fightback?

Sarbanda Sonowal: My people’s love has inspired and motivated me. I feel that my public is like a god to me. They make everything possible.

Rohan Dua: If I compare your role as CM, which has also gained a lot of popularity, there has been a popular CM from the northeast. I remember when the Varanasi Ship was inaugurated, you proudly introduced yourself as the Northeast representative. So, as CM and Union Minister, what gives you more satisfaction?

Sarbanda Sonowal: This country is big, and the nation comes first. I have to work selflessly for my country, following the path shown by PM Modi.

Rohan Dua: So it doesn’t matter to you if someone else replaces you as CM in Assam?

Sarbanda Sonowal: No, because I have clarity in my motives and intentions. Our country is huge, and serving it is my priority.

Rohan Dua: Talking about tea plantations, I remember when the film Koyala was shot in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia. Tea transportation from here to all parts of the country during COVID-19 and even after COVID-19 has achieved another level. But do you feel there is a shortage in tea plantations today? Are there problems related to subsidies or labour?

Sarbanda Sonowal: Challenges will always be there; they are a part of the human life cycle. How we face these challenges and take reasonable steps to tackle them is important, providing relaxation to our citizens.

Rohan Dua: Considering that Mr. Teli’s ticket was denied, he is from the OBC community. Like the Prime Minister, you come from the ST community. Do you think that community politics sometimes works?

Sarbanda Sonowal: No, it’s not about community politics. Serving the nation is the priority. Mr Teli is a respected leader in BJP, and his hard work benefits everyone. Teli ji is campaigning with me, urging people to vote for me.

Rohan Dua: When I saw your Twitter handle as Chief Minister of Assam, your pictures shaking hands with Himanta Biswa Sarma, Delhi felt there was a rivalry. Sarbananda Sonowal is a towering leader of Assam and Himanta was borrowed from Congress, who came and joined BJP. Do you think there is a concept of big brother and younger brother between you and him?

Sarbanda Sonowal: Ham Sath Sath Hain, We are together

Rohan Dua: Lastly, if you go on to win, would you still become a Union Minister in Modi’s cabinet?

Sarbanda Sonowal: That will be decided. Whatever the party decides, I will strictly follow it

Rohan Dua: Your opponent Lurinjyoti Gogoi visited your home yesterday to seek blessings from your family where he met your brother and sister in law. Your brother blessed him.

Sarbanda Sonowal: This is our tradition. This is our culture. Our elders have taught us to keep unity in the story and not to break it.

 

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Rohan Dua: You have a degree in literature and bring a lot of thrust on art, cinema, and culture. Assam has represented itself in various forms. What will be the future course of action when you go on to become a minister for the third time in the Modi cabinet?

Sarbanda Sonowal: Culture integration is the most powerful integration. Culture always unites. So, that’s the power of culture.

Rohan Dua: How many seats are you giving to BJP in this election in Assam?

Sarbanda Sonowal: More than 12.

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