Himanta Biswa Sarma is the finance minister in the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Assam government. He is credited with being the architect of the saffron surge in Northeastern states.
Sarma cut his teeth during the Assam agitation against illegal migrants as a member of the All Assam Student's Union (AASU). The AASU's top leaders later formed the Asom Gana Parishad, which formed the government a few times amid political turmoil. Sarma quickly emerged as the 'errand boy' of the leaders and has since risen to become one of the biggest political movers and shakers in the state.
Sarma was elected to the Assam Legislative Assembly from Jalukbari for the first time in 2001 on a Congress ticket. He defeated Asom Gana Parishad leader Bhrigu Kumar Phukan and was re-elected in 2006 and then for a third consecutive term in 2011. As a minister in successive Congress governments, Sarma held positions like those of Minister of State for Agriculture, Planning & Development, Finance, Health, Education, and Assam Accord Implementation from 2002 to 2014.
In lead up to the Assam Assembly election 2016, Sarma wanted to be projected as the face of the Congress in the state and held the then Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi responsible for the grand old party's drubbing in the North eastern state in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014. However, the Congress leadership in Delhi continued to vouch for Gogoi which miffed Sarma, and he led a Congress faction out of the party and joined the BJP.
Himanta Biswa Sarma had expressed his desire to contest from the Tezpur Lok Sabha constituency but was denied a ticket. However, he is said to be the linchpin of BJP's successful Assembly poll campaigns in the Northeast. Given that the party is reeling from a political backlash over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 in the region, how he manages to limit the damage would be keenly watched.