Asking party MPs from Uttar Pradesh to gear up for the next Lok Sabha polls, Rahul Gandhi today expressed confidence that Congress would be able to double the number of seats it had won in 2009 general elections in the state.
Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi in UP had won 22 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in last Lok Sabha elections. It was a major achievement for the party, which had won only 22 seats in 2007 Assembly elections. One Lok Sabha seat is considered equivalent to five Assembly seats.
In 2012 Assembly elections, the party, however, could win only 28 seats.
Sources said that Rahul Gandhi asked party MPs from the state to "be confident and positive". He expressed confidence that "we will win more than double number of seats of what we had got in the last Lok Sabha elections", the sources said.
Rahul Gandhi is learnt to have said that while the party will be able to repeat its victory in the seats already held, new seats will be added to the party's kitty. Mr Gandhi also asked MPs to proactively apprise people of UPA government's work.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, who is an MP from Uttar Pradesh, downplayed suggestions that Mr Gandhi's exhortation to the party leaders to gear up for polls indicated mid-term polls were near.
"There is no question of mid-term polls. We will complete our full term, it is our desire. This is what should happen in democracy," he told reporters here when asked whether Gandhi has given any timeline for early elections or whether DMK withdrawing support from the government could lead to such an eventuality.
"One year is not a very long time and sometimes elections happen two months or four months before as well. So we have to keep the preparation. That is why he called everybody and encouraged them," Mr Khurshid said.
He said that Mr Gandhi wanted everybody to be free in the discussion and also told the MPs that if anybody feels there is any shortcoming in the organisation, he will try to address it.