Ajanta Neog, Assam’s first woman Finance Minister

Ajanta Neog was appointed as Assam’s first woman Finance Minister by new Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma
Ajanta Neog, Assam's First Woman Finance Minister
Ajanta Neog, Assam's First Woman Finance MinisterThe Bridge Chronicle

Guwahati: New Chief Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma declared Ajanta Neog as Assam’s first woman Finance Minister. Ajanta Neog, a five-time MLA from Golaghat constituency, was given portfolio of the finance department that was held by Sarma during the first term of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government, led by Sarbananda Sonowal.

Neog, a law graduate from Gauhati University, had held the PWD department in the previous government led by the late Tarun Gogoi before switching from the Congress to the BJP in December last year. Neog was introduced to politics by Tarun Gogoi after her husband Nagen Neog was killed in 1996 by the along with eight others by the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

After assuming charge in the finance department, Neog said that Chief Minister Sarma had announced after taking the oath on Monday that the aim of the new government is to make Assam one of the top five states in India in the next five years, and she would work and plan accordingly to achieve the target.

The 46-year-old, won the Golaghat constituency with a margin of 9,036 votes in the recently conducted Assembly Elections. She has been winning from her bastion since 2001 and now accounts the record of being the longest-serving woman MLA from Assam.

After appointed as Finance Minister, she said Sarma was the Finance Minister in the previous government headed by former CM Sarbananda Sonowal and he did a lot to enhance the economy of Assam.

“Sarma performed well in the finance department and has also helped to increase the state's revenue. Thus, I have a serious responsibility to take forward his works for the all-round development of the state," Neog said while talking to media persons. Neog also stated that being the in-charge of the social welfare department, she will look forward for the welfare of women and backward communities.

"The social welfare department has always taken care of the hapless and poor women and the depressed class of people. I would see how the department can benefit the women and backward people by increasing their livelihood opportunities," the minister was quoted as saying by news agency IANS.

One of the senior minister in the previous Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government, Neog had left the party weeks before the March-April Assembly Elections in the state to join the ruling BJP. Neog was expelled by Congress in December last year for ‘anti-party’ activities. This came amid Neog, a close confidante of former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and part of his cabinet.

The four-time MLA from Golaghat constituency had met former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and North-East Democratic Alliance convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma in December. Following her meeting with the duo, Neog was asked by the Congress party's state unit to show cause why action would not be taken against her. She had held vital portfolios of social welfare and public works in the Congress governments in Assam.

In all, 74 women candidates (7.8 per cent) contested the recently held three-phase Assam Assembly Elections and only six of them entered the Assembly -- three from the BJP, including Neog, followed by two from opposition Congress and one from Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).

Meanwhile, Assam on May 2 yet again proved to be the main comfort for the saffron party (BJP) as its alliance won a comfortable majority in the Assam Assembly Elections 2021. The fightback by Congress and its allies AIUDF, BPF and Left failed to even cross the margin of 50. The BJP led the Mitrajot (Alliance of Friends) in Assam. It also has a coalition with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) and the Gana Suraksha Party (GSP), which primarily signify the Bodo and Sarania communities respectively.

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