GUWAHATI, March 24 - Sounding the bugle for next year�s general elections, BJP chief Amit Shah today said the saffron party has set a target to win at least 21 out of the 25 Lok Sabha seats from the northeastern region in the 2019 polls.
Addressing the booth presidents� sammelan organised by the State BJP at the Veterinary College ground here, Shah said the Northeast has made all-round progress since assumption of office at the Centre by the Narendra Modi-led government.
�In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, we managed to win eight of the 25 seats from the Northeast. We have set a target for 2019 and it is to win 21 or more seats from this region,� he said.
The eight northeastern States, including Sikkim, have a total of 25 Lok Sabha constituencies. In the 2014 general elections, the saffron party had won seven seats in Assam and one in Arunachal Pradesh.
The BJP boss said under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi the party has managed to secure one electoral victory after another across the country, and in the Northeast, the saffron party or its allies from the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) are in power in all States barring Mizoram.
Accusing successive Congress regimes at the Centre of neglecting the Northeast, Shah said that in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls Modi had promised that under BJP dispensation the pace of development of the eastern and northeastern region of India will be on par with the western States.
�Since assuming office, the Modi government has taken major steps for development of the Northeast. The Congress always played the politics of divide and rule, while our agenda is of sabka saath sabka vikaas,� he said.
�Recently Rahul Gandhi visited the Northeast for electioneering and made one baseless statement after another,� Shah said, adding, �I want to ask Rahul Gandhi what the Congress did for Assam during the 10 years of the UPA regime when the Prime Minister himself was an MP from the State?�
When Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister of India and Tarun Gogoi was the Chief Minister of Assam, the 13th Finance Commission allotted Rs 79,741 crore for the State, he said. �Now with Modi as the Prime Minister, the 14th Finance Commission has allotted Rs 155,292 crore for Assam,� he added.
While mentioning figures released by the NDA regime for Assam under various projects, like the Smart City Mission, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and for urban transportation, Shah also praised the BJP-led government in Dispur and commended both Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for their �joint effort�.
He said the Sonowal government has taken a tough stand on the issue of corruption, including exposing the alleged misdeeds of the previous Congress regime, and added that the ongoing NRC update process will help in solving the issue of illegal immigrants.
He said that solution of the India-Bangladesh land swap deal and improvement in the bilateral relations between New Delhi and Dhaka augur well for trade and commerce in the northeastern region.
Shah commended the Assam unit of the BJP and said that it must also extend a helping hand to other State units of the party in the Northeast. While calling upon party leaders and workers in the region to maintain cordial relations with alliance partners NEDA, he said booth-level members have been the mainstay of the BJP.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal called upon the BJP cadres to ensure that welfare schemes of the government reach the intended beneficiaries at the grassroot level. �We have resolved to achieve victory in both the forthcoming panchayat polls as well as the next Lok Sabha elections,� he said.
State BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass said 3.33 lakh �page in-charges� of the party in Assam will be appointed within next six months. He said all State-level party office-bearers and other senior leaders will also have to compulsorily function as �page in-charges� of one page of the voters� list.
BJP national leaders Ram Lal and Ram Madhav also addressed the gathering.