The Congress will win the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and nobody can stop it, party President Rahul Gandhi asserted on Tuesday, as he set a target of bagging a minimum of 20 seats out of a total of 25 from the Northeast. The Congress will fight the polls focussing on three to four major issues, including job crisis, farm distress and corruption, Gandhi said while addressing the party's district and block unit chiefs from Northeastern states in Guwahati.
"In 2019 elections, Congress party is going to win. It is a reality and no one can stop that," he told the gathering, adding "I am expecting 20 plus seats in Northeast from Congress party, nothing less than that. But I think you should try to win 22."
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The Congress had won eight seats in the Northeast in 2014. It got three in Assam, two in Manipur, one each in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Mizoram.
The BJP had won seven Lok Sabha seats in Assam and one in Arunachal Pradesh, represented by Union Minister of State for Home Kiran Rijiju.
After ruling the region for years, the Congress lost its last bastion in Northeast as BJP ally Mizo National Front (MNF) wrestled Mizoram in December last.
The entire Northeast is now ruled by either the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or its allies in the NEDA (North East Democratic Alliance).
Gandhi said after winning the Lok Sabha polls, Congress members should work towards bringing back the party to power in all the states, from where it was thrown out in a "wrong way".
"The Congress will fight elections on three to four different aspects in India and the Northeast. One is the Citizenship Bill. The Congress stand is clear that we oppose this Bill. Congress party stood for the Northeast and stopped the Bill from coming to Rajya Sabha," Gandhi said while giving credit to the widespread agitation against the Bill.
He also criticised the government for "shoddily" implementing the update of National Register of Citizens (NRC) and said that job crisis is a huge issue.
The Congress chief said that there is a massive agrarian crisis across the country and the youths are not getting proper education.
"Narendra Modi is not bothered and he is not interested in the problems of the people. We want to make Northeast a hub for education," Gandhi said.
"Corruption and Rafale are massive issues. Rs 30,000 crore was given to Anil Ambani. Whenever I mention the word 'Chowkidar', all say 'Chowkidar chor hain'. I apologise to all the 'chowkidars' in this country for putting their credibility at risk, but I am saying only one 'Chowkidar is chor'," he said.
Claiming that Rs 3.5 lakh crore loans of big corporates were waived off and mentioning that five airports have already been handed over to "Modi's friend", the opposition leader said handing over of the country's resources to a few industrialists in "wholesale" is a massive issue in the Lok Sabha polls.
Besides, Gandhi alleged that BJP is trying to "crush" the regional identities as they do not understand the "Northeast culture and idea".
"Northeast will not tolerate this nonsensical idea of imposing the Nagpur culture... Do not fight the polls with hatred. You talk love and brotherhood, which will defeat BJP's hatred," Gandhi added.
Earlier, Gandhi also held a close-door meeting of the Northeast Congress Coordination Committee (NECCC), comprising all state unit chiefs, former chief ministers and senior leaders from all states in the region and discussed strategies for the upcoming polls.
"I have made it very clear in the meeting that we are not a party like BJP that imposes one idea only. Northeast is a unique region with different types of languages, religions and tribes. It is important for us that issues of Northeast are discussed and represented," he said.
(With agency inputs)