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State disapproves of vicious politics of dogma

   By Vijay Darda | 31-03-2022

Nitin Gadkari speaks candidly at Lokmat platform conveying that lack of ideology is more of a problem than difference of opinion

Vijay Darda

With increasing polarisation emerging across diverse socio-political contexts, it is important to ask how we understand the political views of those who think differently from us. There are differences of opinion based on ideology in politics. Therefore, we can be against each other’s ideology, but certainly not become each other’s enemy. Maharashtra has kept that tradition of respecting political differences alive. An extreme ideology of aggression and dogma is never acceptable to the culture of Maharashtra. Everyone should be honest with their ideology. Lack of ideology is more of a problem than a difference of opinion. It is wrong to label people in politics as belonging to the right or left ideology as most of them are not there in politics for promoting an ideology, lamented Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari. presented the Lokmat Journalism Awards given by the Lokmat Media Group to various journalists in Pune. Gadkari was interviewed on this occasion by Chairman of the Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha Vijay Darda, and Editor of the Pune edition of Lokmat Sanjay Awate.

Question: Irrespective of party affiliations, all political leaders like and respect Gadkari. At present, the political atmosphere has become stressful. Some people in your party seem to be showing extreme aggression. Why do all political parties display feelings of affection towards you? Why do they think Nitin Gadkari is theirs, despite political and partisan opposition?

Gadkari: The politics of Maharashtra is not receptive to the culture of aggression and vindictiveness. If there is to be a qualitative change in democracy, there must be a politics of ideology in every party. Differences of opinion are bound to be there but there should be respect for the ideology and actions of a person in politics.

I am not in race for PM’s post

I am now in national politics. I also wanted to come to Maharashtra, but now I have my focus in Delhi. I am happy here and I have got everything so far without asking. So I think I’m not in the race for the PM’s job. I got the job I deserved. I am going to do great for society. My family taught me in childhood, that the giver should keep giving, the receiver should keep receiving and one day the receiver should take the hand of the giver. People perform work worth one rupee and quote ten rupees for the same. But I never overquote and if the work is worth Rs 10, I quote only that much amount. I am not in the race for the PM’s post. What I learned from the RSS is that we have to do as much as we can through social change. One thing I’ve been doing since the beginning is that we shouldn’t promote our work. When I went to Uttarakhand, I read that a newspaper had said, ‘Modi ka naam, Gadkari ka kaam aur BJP ka kamaal.’ I don’t care what anyone writes.

I believe in beauty of work

Question: At the national level, people are aware of the two faces, the Prime Minister and the Home Minister. At the national level, when people now know only two faces, the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, are they afraid of a well-reputed Union Minister?

Gadkari: Such arguments are made by the media. But, everyone has the freedom to work. That’s how we do our work. I was at an event with Jayant Patil in the morning because he was the Guardian Minister of the district. Everyone has got a rightful place. The only thing we know is that we have to complete the work that is assigned to us.

Congress workers should stay in party believing in  party ideology

Question: Opposition is necessary for democracy to survive. What do you think about the Congress party?

Gadkari: The chariot of democracy runs on two wheels, the ruling party, and the opposition. Therefore, democracy needs to have a competent opposition. I also think that Congress should be strengthened. It is a matter of concern that regional parties are taking the place of the Congress party. It is not in the interest of democracy for regional parties to replace the Congress party. So I sincerely think that in a democracy there should be a strong opposition. It may be noted that even after Atal Bihari Vajpayee lost the election, he was felicitated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Therefore, the Congress party should also become strong. Congress workers should stay in the party believing in their party’s ideology.

I only build national highways!

Question: Shiv Sena Minister Abdul Sattar had said that Gadkari can build any roads or bridges. Therefore, it is certain that ‘Gadkari Saheb’ will also rebuild the BJP-Shiv Sena bridge. Can this bridge be built?

Gadkari: I can build the bridge that I have the contract to build. I can’t build state highways, district roads, or city roads. I only build national highways. I just do my job and don’t think about the rest. Everyone is competent in their own field.

I would rather jump into the well than deviate from my ideology.

Once when I had come to Pune for a BJP convention and started walking from the station carrying BJP’s literature on my shoulders. It was Dr Shrikant Jichkar who spotted me, he was then the Minister of State for Home Affairs. He told me, “Give it to other man. Why are you picking up this stuff?” Then he said, “Nitinji, you are a very decent person; But you have no future in this party. You join the Congress party. Your career will be better.” In reply, I said, “Shrikant, I would rather jump into the well than give up the ideology.”

At that time I remember another incident, it was written on a wall, ‘Who makes noise seeking alternatives, those ones who have just two elected representatives’ and next to that it was written ‘Hum do hamare do’. It made me feel bad; but many activists worked hard and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the leader of the two-member party, became the country’s prime minister. So every party is going to get a chance. It is not right to give up ideology and leave the party in despair. If you continue to work by adhering to your political ideology, then one day you will win though you may have suffered defeat now.

Incomplete road projects in Maharashtra will be built with assistance from  Centre

Question: You easily raise money for work. Why is it that announcements are made and infrastructure works linger?

Gadkari: Mumbai to Goa, Jalgaon to Aurangabad were state-level roads. They were not stuck because of me. However, now a new National Highway from Aurangabad to Pune has been approved under Bharatmala. Its DPR and alignment have been approved. The work on the Mumbai-Goa Road is 80 percent complete. I am looking at how the dilapidated roads in Maharashtra will be completed by the centra. A new highway from Aurangabad to Pune will be constructed, its design is underway. The Mumbai-Goa Highway was designed when Bhujbal was the Minister.

The media should change its approach towards RSS

Speaking about RSS, Gadkari said, “What was written about the RSS in the past was wrong. The media should also think afresh about the RSS.”

I have been in the RSS for so many days, but what was written about the RSS is wrong. There may be some differences. I was invited to attend the swearing-in of the Chief Minister of the Communist Party, but I was wondering, what will happen if I go, what will the media write if I don’t go? I think the media should reconsider its approach now. The media should write everything clearly and concisely, and let the public at large form their opinions.

We are audience who loves watching cinema from the front row and theatre plays from  last rows

Kashmir Files is a beautiful movie. We are the audience who loves watching cinema sitting in the front row but watch theatre plays from last row. I remember there was a time when I used to buy a third-class ticket for 85 paise. Our clothes used to get torn because it was too crowded to get a third-class ticket on the first day for the first show, due to the rush. I lived a happy life then too. I was a student leader and had a Vijay scooter at that time and we would be four people travelling on the scooter. We were careful enough not to let the police see the registration number plate of the scooter, and now I am the Union Transport Minister.

Mumbai-Bengaluru Highway to be completed by 2024, will bring travel time to just five hours

Question: How did a middle-class man named ‘Nitin Gadkari’ suddenly start talking astronomical figures worth thousands of crores? Even the numbers you mention are hard to write down immediately. How come you calculate such huge numbers despite hailing from a middle-class family?

Gadkari: It doesn’t matter who comes from which family. When I was in college, my family told me to get a job in a bank. I told them that I am going to provide jobs. Today I announced a Pune to Bangalore road worth Rs 30,000 crore. This road will shorten the duration of the journey from Mumbai to Bangalore, as the people from Mumbai will be able to travel to Bangalore within five hours via ring road and within three and a half hours from Pune. It is five times bigger than the Mumbai-Pune road. I’m sure that road will be completed in time. If what I said is false then put ‘Breaking News’ or print the news on the front page. I don’t care, as I never lie. If there is no work to be done, it is clearly stated.


Ultimately the owner calls shot

Question: Since your previous portfolios of Ganga purification and shipping have been changed. Is there a risk of delays in Ganga purification, port projects, shipping, etc.?

Gadkari: Just like it is up to the owner of the newspaper to decide which editor to appoint and whom to replace, as the owner is the leader. Portfolios are reshuffled by the Prime Minister and this is common in a democracy.


LK Advani, George Fernandes are icons for me

I rode a bicycle, rode a rickshaw, pasted party posters. George Fernandes and LK Advani are icons for me. No one has been with me during my aeroplane journeys for the last forty years. 50 Z-Plus security personnel accompany me. If people approach me casually, I cross-question them if they have no work to do, hence nobody comes to me casually. 

Now everything is disciplined

Whenever I used to come to Pune, I used to go to a certain favourite hotel, but now my visits to Pune have also decreased. I did not stick to my diet plan and exercising. Now everything is on track with discipline.<

Politics is not about making money

Someone told me, I can give my life to the country. Asked him what he was doing to earn his living, to which he said he owned a grocery store. I told him first go and take care of the grocery store and family first and then enter politics. Politics is not about making money. I set up a petrol pump company and gave petrol pumps to 50 BJP workers to make a living. I told them to work honestly. 

Some leaders only work for publicity

I got great support and cooperation from the people, hence willpower is important. Some leaders simply work for publicity, but I feel that one should do whatever they want to do, honestly and neatly. Not just for the sake of taking photos. We must always decide what direction we should give to people, rather than what they like. If you have the will to work for the public, you can do a very good job.


Pune is a city of scholars and guides

Pune is a city of great and learned men. There are scholars and guides in every household of Pune. The work of Pune Metro was stuck due to confusion as there were multiple opinions on whether to build the metro underground or overground. After a lot of gung-ho, I decided that enough is enough, and told everyone to get down to practical work. For the Nagpur metro, Devendra Fadnavis and I sat for an hour and worked on the Metro project with the advice of Brijesh Dixit. Some decisions have to be taken firmly, otherwise, things don’t work out. Sometimes there is a responsibility to take tough decisions for the benefit of society; otherwise, there will be no developmental works done. 

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