The ruling BJP is eyeing at least 12 of the 14 Lok Sabha seats from Assam in the 2024 general elections if one goes by the appeal of chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to party workers here on Saturday.
Addressing a packed meeting of karyakartas, Sarma said: “Lok Sabha polls are coming... We will take a pledge today. We have to contribute as much as possible from the Northeast to see Prime Minister Narendra Modi as PM once again. We have 14 Lok Sabha seats. Last time we won nine seats. This time we should win at least 12 seats. Can we do it? Do we have the josh?”
“This meeting is one of sankalpa, of promise. We will not remain idle till the Lok Sabha polls. We will work, sacrifice to see Prime Minister Modi in the coveted post of PM for the third straight term. We will work towards this goal from today,” the chief minister added:
Sarma used the opportunity to share with the gathering what the BJP-led coalition government in the state was planning on the development and job creation fronts, something party insiders said would not only motivate party workers at the grassroots but also provide them with something new when they woo voters.
The chief minister said the government would launch a Rs 5,000-crore self-employment scheme benefiting two lakh youths, increase the number of beneficiaries under its Arunodoi monthly financial assistance scheme and Ayushman Bharat health scheme and complete the pre-poll promise of providing one lakh jobs within the next seven months.
“Those who have ration cards will get Rs 5 lakh health insurance under Ayushman Bharat Yojana from January 1,” Sarma said.
BJP national president J.P. Nadda and Union home minister Amit Shah, who had earlier inaugurated a six-storey state party office here, emphasised on the party’s development and peace planks pushed by Prime Minister Modi in the Northeast. The duo also targeted the Opposition Congress for its alleged misrule in the Northeast.
In 2019, the BJP-led alliance had won 18 of the 25 seats in the Northeast, with nine seats coming from Assam.
The BJP getting into the election mode so early is not surprising. It does not want to take any chances despite its electoral success in the state since 2014 because the Opposition Congress, despite its freefall since 2014, had a vote share of 29.7 per cent in the 2021 Assembly polls, which the BJP-led alliance won to get a second straight term. The BJP had polled 33.2 per cent of total votes in 2021.
Union minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Shah and Nadda in their respective speeches attacked the Congress at the karyakata meeting.
“The Congress had turned the beautiful Northeast into the land of violence, anarchy and strikes. Modi ji brought it back on the path of peace and progress,” Shah said, adding that the party office would play a “significant role in further strengthening the BJP in the state and contributing to the development of Assam and welfare of its people”.
Shah said the Armed Forces Special Powers Act would be lifted completely only after peace was restored in the region.
Leading organisations in the Northeast have demanded the withdrawal of the “draconian law” that gave sweeping powers to the armed forces operating in the region.
Shah said work was under way to make Assam flood-free in five years, a pre-poll promise of the BJP.
Nadda asserted that the BJP was the only ideology-based national party and harped on the development that had taken place since the BJP came to power at the Centre in 2014.
In the evening, Shah chaired a meeting on issues related to drug trafficking in the region and also destroyed huge quantity of seized drugs.