BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma was denied a Lok Sabha election ticket as the party's plan to stitch alliances in the northeast failed, prompting the leadership to retain him on party duties, a source told NDTV. The party leadership wanted Mr Sarma to concentrate on all 25 seats in the northeast rather than just one seat in which he wanted to contest the April-May election.
"We had resolved that we would like to give the candidature to Himanta. He also showed interest. Later on, when the panel of names were sent to central election committee, they told us that he is the convenor of the NEDA, so he has to look after all the 25 seats in northeast," said Assam BJP president Ranjeet Dass.
BJP chief Amit Shah said on Wednesday that Mr Sarma's name was nominated by the Assam Election Committee, but the party asked him to play the role the North East Democratic Alliance's (NEDA) chairperson. Mr Sharma had accepted the party's decision.
"I think the party has entrusted us with the responsibility of getting the maximum number of seats from northeast, we have 25 seats and we are confident of getting 19-20 seats and we would work towards it," Mr Sarma said.
NEDA is an anti-Congress political alliance of the BJP with the regional parties of the northeast. It's headed by Himanta Biswa Sarma.
The BJP wanted to convert this 'political alliance' into an electoral alliance for the general election. Things, however, didn't go as planned.
The party finalised an alliance with two regional parties in Assam and one in Nagaland. But in the six other northeast states, its political allies have decided to go it alone.
Recently, many regional forces like the UDP of Meghalaya and NPF of Nagaland have joined the NEDA.
In Sikkim, the BJP formed a pre-poll alliance with the main opposition party - the SKM. But the regional party dumped the BJP. In Tripura, ally IPFT has fielded candidates against the BJP.
The denial of alliances was construed as a bad sign, prompting the leadership to keep Mr Sarma on party duty.
Himanta Biswa Sarma was not seen very active in the past couple of months in NEDA, and most negotiations were done by BJP general secretary Ram Madhav. Now, the BJP wants Mr Sarma to be on the driver's seat, sources added.