It’s been over eight months since Nitin Gadkari took over as the president of the BJP. However, the party still looks like a divided house without any clear direction.
In a freewheeling chat with Swati Chaturvedi of Zeenews.com on Kahiye Janab, Gadkari talks about BJP’s fight against price rise, the BJP-JD(U) tussle, Amit Shah and much more.
Here are the excerpts:
Swati: You have been in Delhi for over six months now. You say everything is fine. Your well-wishers/ critics say RSS picked you and brought you to Delhi. However, people also say that you have so far not been able to adapt with the etiquettes/mannerism of Delhi. Sometimes, you call someone a son-in-law, sometimes you attack Sonia, and at other times, you use animal phraseology. What is all this?
Gadkari: I want to ask you - why has Afzal Guru not been hanged for six years, not even after the Supreme Court verdict? The then Union Home Minister asked the Delhi Chief Minister to sit on the Afzal file for over four years; even martyrs’ wives have returned their medals. What do you do in such a scenario?
Swati: You are this country’s principal opposition party. Every Indian is unhappy because of what’s happening in Kashmir, inflation etc. People still don’t have confidence in you (BJP) despite this helpless government?
Gadkari: Whether people have trust in us or not will only be known after the elections. And we are not helpless like the government. We organised an unprecedented Bharat Bandh recently on the price rise issue. We have submitted 10 crore signatures to the President against price rise. We have always raised the people’s voice, both inside and outside Parliament, on every issue including Kashmir and inflation.
Swati: People once used to say the BJP has its own set of issues and principles; it’s a party with a difference. Ram Jethmalani, who openly supported Afzal Guru and once said (former PM) Atal Bihari Vajpayee has lost his mental balance, has now joined the party. Jaswant Singh, who said Sardar Patel was behind partition, is also back in the party. Uma Bharti, who once used to be your party’s iconic leader, has no place in the BJP now. What do you have to say on this?
Gadkari: Ram Jethmalani has clarified before media what he had said earlier. Regarding Jaswant ji, the party had taken action against him after the publication of his book. But him being a veteran leader of the party, he was re-inducted. In a democratic party, people are allowed to have personal views. We have always worked towards addition, not subtraction…
If we take back Uma Bharti, media will say why have you done so? If we don’t, then also media will keep bothering us on the issue. If any person has committed a small mistake, he/she should be given a chance to correct that.
Swati: Tell me, the US doesn’t give your Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi a visa. Won’t he get a Bihar visa also?
Gadkari: I would like to tell you that in Bihar, the BJP and JD(U) combine are going to return with strength.
Swati: (Bihar CM) Nitish (Kumar) has said that if Modi and Varun Gandhi will come to Bihar, then there will be no alliance?
Gadkari: I have spoken to Nitish on a personal level, one-to-one. Our alliance has been finalised, seat sharing will also be finalised in the next 10-15 days. Our programme has also been confirmed. We will fight elections on positive, developmental issues.
Swati: Aren’t Modi and Varun ‘positive’?
Gadkari: The BJP’s Bihar unit will decide who needs to be called for campaigning in the state. And whoever is called will go there.
Swati: Tell me, was the controversial ad featuring Modi and Nitish together necessary?
Gadkari: The chapter about the ad is closed, the alliance is done, we are not worried, then why are you (media) worried.
Swati: Your Gujarat government’s ex-home minister Amit Shah is facing serious charges. Do you think Nitish would at present like to be seen with Modi and Shah in a photo?
Gadkari: Firstly, your comments about Amit Shah are unjustified. All this is CBI misuse. The investigating agency is being used against Shah.
Swati: If what you are saying about the CBI is true, then why are you demanding CBI probe into the telecom scam among others?
Gadkari: I am clearly saying that the CBI has become the Congress Bureau of Investigation. It has no credibility left.
Swati: The question is not about CBI. Supreme Court is monitoring the Amit Shah case. Are you saying as BJP president, the SC is under CBI pressure?
Gadkari: Who is saying what is another matter. There are many things that should be said and there are others that shouldn’t. Regarding the Amit Shah case, let the enquiry be over and he and the Gujarat government will come out clean. Sohrabuddin was facing so many cases, including two under TADA. When his house was raided, AK-47s and other arms and ammunitions were recovered from a well. Four states’ police were saying that he had direct links with Dawood Ibrahim. If such a man is being turned into a patriot and used against a state’s home minister, then this is very sad.
Swati: Whatever, this country still has rule of law; right to life is a basic tenet of our Constitution. And here is a case of a fake encounter being defended. What are we talking about!
Gadkari: The National Human Rights Commission is investigating around 1100 cases of fake encounter. Uttar Pradesh alone has around 450-500 such cases. Manipur has 111, Maharashtra has many cases, while such cases are negligible in Gujarat. I want to ask everyone, including the media, what action has been taken against 111 cases in Manipur. You (media) people need to change your outlook. A criminal is a criminal, and a terrorist is a terrorist.
Swati: CWG has turned out to be a big scam. As a principal opposition party, you haven’t attacked Suresh Kalmadi, a fellow MP, in Parliament.
Gadkari: You are partially right. But we have attacked him to an extent. In his reply in Parliament, Kalmadi had said he won’t quit till Congress chief Sonia Gandhi asks him to. I want to ask Sonia ji as well as the Prime Minister, why haven’t they taken action against him even after so many revelations about corruption in CWG. Also, Kalmadi’s (CWG Organising Committee’s) budget was just Rs 1,600 crores, while the Delhi government’s budget was over Rs 20,000 crores. What about that?
Swati: If our viewers ask you whether the BJP is still sticking to its basic issues, what would you say?
Gadkari: 101%. We are fighting for the same issues in the 21st century, irrespective of whether we win back the power or not.
Adapted by Deepak Nagpal