Buoyed by the party's success in Manipur, Assam BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma has said that they are confident of winning 19 seats out of 24 from the northeast in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The BJP is upbeat after it formed its maiden government in Manipur led by N Biren Singh.
Talking about the BJP's impressive show in Manipur, Sarma said, "This is the one state where BJP had no representation in the Assembly. From having no seat to winning 21 and then going on to form the government is a big achievement. This shows the faith and trust people of the northeast have in PM Modi."
Now a convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance or NEDA, Sarma quit the Congress and joined the BJP in August 2015. This after he fell out with the Congress leadership for reportedly not considering him for the chief minister's post in Assam.
MANIPUR SUCCESS HARD-EARNED: SARMA
Sarma added, "The hard work of BJP cadres paid off. We had planned this victory in Manipur about six months ago and started working hard for it."
When asked how he saw BJP's gaining a stronghold in the northeast in the context of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Sarma said, "Amit Shah laid special focus on the northeast as an area of expansion for the BJP. We are confident of winning 19 out of 24 seats from the northeast in the 2019 general elections. For this, we need more and more BJP governments in the region so that central schemes initiated by PM Modi can be implemented at the ground level."
Talking about assembly elections in Nagaland, Manipur and Meghalaya, the 3 northeastern states that go to polls next year, he said, "We plan to wrest Tripura from the Left and Meghalaya from Congress."
Reacting sharply to allegations by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi that BJP undermined democracy by using money power to form its government in Manipur, Sarma said, "We got 30 or 31 seats not by luring people by offering them money. National People's Party (NPP) is a part of NEDA and so is the Naga People's Front. LJP led by Ram Vilas Paswan is already a part of the Union government. We got Manipur only by uniting friends. Rahul Gandhi has no political knowledge. His comments are based on the lines and statements fed to him by others. He doesn't even know where Manipur is on the map of India."
SARMA LAUDS MODI'S FOCUS ON NORTHEAST
Praising PM Modi's focus on developing the northeast, the Assam BJP leader said, "Under PM Modi, all Indian states are on the path of development. We want northeast to be at par with other states in the country. We want to integrate PM Modi's vision with northeast states to put them on the path of development."
When asked about what he thought about Congress winning Punjab, Sarma said, "Congress' win in Punjab is mainly Captain Amarinder Singh's victory. It is about time Congress started thinking beyond the Gandhi family for its own good."
He added, "Congress needs to get away from the high command culture and build regional satraps. The word Gandhi has become irrelevant for young India. People want to come out of a feudal mindset. People of India in the 21st century do not espouse family rule."