How Himanta Biswa Sarma is the second most popular CM in India

How Himanta Biswa Sarma is the second most popular CM in India

The popularity ratings of Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma have soared. While 56 per cent respondents expressed satisfaction at his performance in January 2022, 63 per cent are satisfied now

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma

In an age of 24X7 scrutiny by both traditional and social media, the chief minister’s job is undoubtedly one of the toughest assignments in India. The constitution showers the position with immense power but with it comes the accountability. In the last one decade, assembly elections are increasingly being fought on the persona and performance of the chief ministers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP may have been an indefeasible force in Lok Sabha elections but in several states, where it has faced a strong chief ministerial face as an opponent, it has stumbled. Some glaring examples are West Bengal, Odisha, and Delhi.

Even Prime Minister Modi fought the 2014 general elections on the plank of the Gujarat model he had developed as chief minister of the state. So, it’s important for political parties to nurture strong regional leaders not just to win elections in the home state but to showcase as a model of ideal governance nationally. That’s the reason India Today Mood of the Nation (MOTN) survey, a biannual opinion poll, in its 22nd year now, has always been trying to assess the performance of chief ministers from a national perspective and from the perspective of the voters in a state.

This year also, the MOTN, conducted by CVoter, a globally renowned name in the field of socio-economic research, between July 15, 2022, and July 31, 2022, sought to find out the most popular chief ministers across the country and the most popular chief ministers in their home states. So, 1,19,537 respondents across the country were asked to choose the best chief ministers among the 30 incumbents. The chief ministers were ranked based on the choices of the people across the nation.

On this assessment, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath emerged as the most popular chief minister chief minister of India, with nearly 40 per cent backing him, up from 27 per cent he polled in the MOTN poll held in January 2022. His popularity is uniform across the country. For instance, 40 per cent respondents from the east rated Yogi as the best chief minister while only 14 per cent backed West Bengal chief minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee.

At the same time, respondents in every state were also asked to evaluate the performance of their own chief minister. The chief ministers were then ranked based on the positive ratings they received in their home state. On this assessment, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik emerged as the most popular chief minister. The MOTN poll shows that 78 per cent respondents in Odisha expressed satisfaction at his performance up from 71 per cent six months ago. In Odisha, 4,564 respondents were asked to rate Patnaik.

It’s on this scale, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has found himself at No 2 position. His popularity ratings have also soared. While 56 per cent respondents expressed satisfaction at his performance in January 2022, 63 per cent are satisfied now. In Assam, 4,227 individuals were asked to rate Sarma. The Assam chief minister has completed the first year in office in May this year. His first year has been known for fast-tracking government service delivery, specific mission against drugs, cattle smuggling and illegal encroachment and for heralding land reforms. He also provided nearly 25,000 government jobs. But he got maximum attention for a surge in encounter killings, particularly against drug peddlers, sexual offenders, and history sheeters.

Sarma has also been increasingly getting national attention—for his aggressive Hindutva politics and political management for BJP. If prior to 2021 assembly election he famously said that he did not need Muslim votes, in Telangana earlier this year, he thundered to wipe off AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi from political landscape. He was the one the BJP brass trusted to shelter the Eknath Shinde-led rebel MLAs in June. He also ensured that 22 opposition MLAs in Assam, highest in any state, cross voted for NDA candidate Draupadi Murmu in the presidential election. Recently, the Congress has alleged that he is involved in a conspiracy to topple the Hemant Soren-led Jharkhand government.

But what has remained a mystery is the conversation that transpired in a sudden meeting in Darjeeling among three most unlikely participants—the then West Bengal Governor and current Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, whose public spat with Dhankhar often made news, and Sarma. A few days later, Dhankhar was announced as vice presidential candidate of the NDA and Mamata Banerjee’s TMC abstained from voting in the polls, indirectly helping the NDA.