“For the first time in 15 years, the Congress has formed a government in Meghalaya and Manipur on its own strength”

The Congress aims to win at least 20 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the Northeast, a region for which the United Progressive Alliance government has just announced a host of infrastructural and developmental projects. “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,” Union Minister for the Development of North East Region (DONER) Paban Singh Ghatowar said on Friday. For the first time in the last 15 years, the Congress has formed a government in Meghalaya and Manipur on its sole strength, he stressed, while it got more than 75 per cent seats in the recent civic body polls in Guwahati. Mr. Ghatowar, addressing the media at the Congress headquarters a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reviewed various infrastructure projects that include Rs. 600 crore for a railway network that will link remote parts of the region, underscored the Congress’s commitment to the overall development of Northeast States.

The GDP growth in the northeast has registered an upward trend in the last nine years, Mr. Ghatowar said, attributing this acceleration to the sharp increase in devolution of funds by the Centre for the region. From an allocation of Rs. 41,966 crore in the 9th 5-Year Plan, approximately Rs. 3,60,000 crore will be earmarked for the development of the region in the 12th Plan period.

Mr. Ghatowar also highlighted the World Bank and Asian Development Bank-aided NER Community Resource Management Project through which four backward, remote districts -- two each in Assam and Manipur – were transformed through financial support and technical inputs to the residents to improve animal husbandry and horticultural and agricultural practices.