Nagpur: Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Nagpur MP Nitin Gadkari has said all “criticism” regarding his supporters not getting tickets to contest the 21 October Maharashtra polls was wrong, and asserted that it was a “false allegation” that he was being sidelined in the party in the state polls.
“I think that this is totally a false allegation. I am not being neglected by the party. I am a strong conviction oriented worker of the party. And these are all false allegations,” Gadkari told ThePrint in an exclusive interview.
While senior BJP leaders claim there are only two decision-making leaders, Amit Shah and Fadnavis, “as far as Maharashtra elections are concerned”, Gadkari told ThePrint that every ticket was finalised in his presence.
“It is totally a false criticism. Every ticket was finalised in my presence. Devendra (Fadnavis) discussed complete plan with me. Our party is a democratic party, and in all the decisions taken by the party, everywhere my participation was there.”
With Maharashtra going to elections Monday, the Nagpur MP heaped praises on Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and said BJP would get “extraordinary victory”.
“We are expecting record breaking victory because the five-year experience of Devendra Fadnavis government has been excellent. On the basis of my experience I can say they again want the same government in Maharashtra. So I’m expecting that we will get extraordinary victory for BJP and Shiv Sena and Devendra Fadnavis will be the next chief minister,” he said.
On economic slowdown in India
The MSME minister said the government needs to support the banking system.
Acknowledging the problem of slowdown, Gadkari blamed it on past policies of the Congress government and said the Narendra Modi government was taking corrective steps to address the situation.
“The world is facing the problem of recession. Some of the problems are because of demand and supply. Some of the problems are because of business cycle and some of the problems we’re facing because of our local economy but India is the fastest growing economy,” Gadkari said.
Defending Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who has been facing flak over the economic slowdown, Gadkari said the government is serious about the economic issues.
“She (Nirmala) is very competent and doing extremely well. There are some challenges, but I am always of the opinion that there are some people who convert problems into opportunities and there are some people who convert opportunities into problem,” he said.
Responding to the current economic condition of the country, former PM Manmohan Singh had recently asked the government to take stock of the situation.
Speaking to ThePrint, Gadkari, however, said: “Already, our finance minister has taken a lot of decisions and after the decisions there is friction in the stock market. I feel that infrastructure development is moving fast.”
He said the agriculture sector is facing some problems, and “the business and trading industry is also facing some problems in some sectors”.
‘Veer Savarkar is my inspiration’
On the controversy over the proposal to give Veer Savarkar the Bharat Ratna, Gadkari said he felt sorry for the people who “don’t know the history”.
He said Savarkar is his “inspiration”.
“In the court case, when there was an allegation against Savarkar ji, the court has given a decision that was not guilty and the court decision very clearly indicates that there was no role of Savarkar ji in (Mahatma) Gandhi’s assanitaion. He is the person who dedicated his whole life for the country. I feel very bad when the people without knowing history, make false allegations against him. It is very unfortunate,” said Gadkari.
‘We will stop farmer suicides’
Gadkari promised that the government would ensure no suicides by farmers in the next five years.
“We are trying our best to improve the situation. Five years is not a reasonable period by which we can change the situation. But now the things are moving fast, and things are moving towards positive direction. And I’m confident in due course of time, we’ll do the research. My mission is to protect the farmers at any cost within five years. We will stop the farmer suicides. We are taking a lot of policy decisions. We are increasing the irrigation facilities,” he said.
On BJP’s dynasty politics in Maharashtra
Almost one fifth of candidates fielded by the BJP in Maharashtra elections are from political families. Gadkari, however, refused allegation that the party is promoting family members of established leaders.
“If someone is son or daughter of anybody, this is not his disqualification. But if leaders start asking tickets for their children, that is an issue. Majority of the candidates in BJP are starting their career from a very grassroots level. I started my political work as a small worker and I became president of the party,” he said.
On Ram Mandir
On the contentious Ram Mandir issue in Ayodhya, Gadkari said while the policy of the BJP is quite clear, he is hopeful some solution may come even before the verdict. “My feeling is (that) before the verdict if it is possible for the court to make coordination and cooperation between the two communities for finding the solution, then nothing like it.”
He said: “We have made this clear many times that we are in support of making Ram Mandir in place of Ram Janmabhoomi. But now the matter is sub judice. But we have faith in our judiciary, the independent, impartial, fair judiciary. Allahabad High Court has already given a clear verdict, on the basis of that we are expecting positive results from the Supreme Court.”