Credited with challenging the controversial Illegal Migrants’ Determination by Tribunal Act in the Supreme Court which finally scrapped it, Sonowal began his foray into politics with the All Assam Students’ Union
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal won from Majuli Assembly seat, defeating Congress candidate Rajib Lochan Pegu by a margin of 43,192 votes.
Sonowal, who retained his seat for the second term, polled 71,436 votes (67.53 percent), while the Congress candidate has to his credit 28,244 votes (26.7 percent), according to the Election Commission of India website.
Besides Sonowal, contesting on a BJP ticket, there were five contestants in the fray from the seat.
Sonowal was sworn-in as the 14th Chief Minister of Assam in May 2016. The Sonowal-led BJP had created quite a flutter in 2016 by managing to topple the Congress, which had ruled the northeastern state for the past 15 years.
What put Sonowal’s achievement even more into focus is that he brought the party which had just six seats in the 2011 Assembly into power in 2016. His announcement as the party’s face in Assam came as no surprise due to his clean image and the fact that he enjoyed the confidence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A recent voter poll, which pegged his popularity at 43.3 percent (a fair distance from Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi at 26.4 percent) showed that his clean image and persona remains undented.
However, with the BJP not having declared a chief ministerial candidate, speculations are on whether Sonowal or state minister Himanta Biswa Sarma will be the CM.
The ruling BJP-led NDA retained its grip on the state, bagging 75 of 126 Assembly constituencies, while the Opposition Congress-led Grand Alliance managed to win just 50 seats.
Credited with challenging the controversial Illegal Migrants’ Determination by Tribunal (IMDT) Act in the Supreme Court which finally scrapped it, Sonowal’s foray into politics began with his joining the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) where he served as its president from 1992 to 1999.
A major figure in the students’ politics of the region, Sonowal, a law graduate, also became the chairman of the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) from 1996 to 2000.
In 2004, he went on to successfully contest the Lok Sabha polls wresting the seat for the first time from the Congress by defeating former Union minister Paban Singh Ghatowar.
He, however, lost the 2009 parliamentary polls to Ghatowar from the same constituency which was once considered a Congress bastion.
Sonowal, who belongs to the Sonowal-Kachari tribe, contested the 2016 Assembly polls from Majuli, the world’s largest river island and the seat of Vaishnavite culture.
Born on 31 October, 1962, in Molokgaon in Dibrugarh district to Jibeswar Sonowal and Dineswari Sonowal, he is a bachelor and a devout follower of Assam’s renowned Vaishnav saints Sankardeva and Madhavdeva.
An ardent sportsman, he is a keen follower of football, cricket and badminton.
With inputs from PTI