New Delhi: Giving a clear indication of its increased focus on the Northeast ahead of next Lok Sabha polls, Congress Friday said it aims at winning over 20 of the total 25 parliamentary seats in the region for which the UPA government has announced a slew of developmental measures.
"Coming election will bring good news for Congress in the Northeast," Union Minister Paban Singh Ghatowar said while dismissing Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as "no challenge" to the party in the region.
A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reviewed various infrastructure projects and earmarked Rs 600 crore for railway network in the region, Ghatowar held a press conference at the AICC headquarters, reiterating Congress` commitment to overall development of northeastern states.
Top leadership of Congress has been focusing on development of the region and party president Sonia Gandhi has also taken up the issues related to infrastructure development there with the Prime Minister earlier.
"Gandhi has been taking continuous interest in the development of the region," Ghatowar, the Minister for Development of Northeastern Region, said.
Maintaining that the GDP growth in the northeast has registered an upward trend in the last nine years, Ghatowar said, "One of the most important reason for this acceleration is the sharp increase in devolution of funds by the Centre for the region which has seen a growth of around 2.5 times more in 2011-12 as compared to 2004-05 when the UPA came to power."
Ghatowar, who hails from Assam, though ruled out early Lok Sabha elections, and expressed confidence that the party will win more than 20 seats in eight states of the region, including Sikkim which together has a total of 25 seats.
"Currently, we have 13 Lok Sabha seats in the region while three others are held by our supporting parties. We are confident of getting more than 20 seats in the Lok Sabha polls," he said.
He said that for the first time in the last 15 years, Congress has formed a government in Meghalaya and Manipur on its sole strength while it got more than 75 per cent seats in civic body polls in Guwahati.