The BJP and the Shiv Sena may have some differences, but they can’t do without each other, Union minister Nitin Gadkari suggested and wanted the alliance of the two parties to continue.
Against the backdrop of acrimony between the two parties during the Palghar Lok Sabha bypoll campaign, Gadkari maintained the saffron alliance does not have any ideological differences, adding there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics.
“It is an alliance done by (Sena supremo) late Bal Thackeray and (late BJP leader) Pramod Mahajan on the issue of Hindutva and both parties have no ideological differences. I want the alliance to continue,” he said.
He was addressing a press conference to highlight the Narendra Modi government’s achievements in the last four years.
Quoting a Marathi proverb “Tujha majha zame na, tujha vachun karme na” (we have lot of differences, but still can’t live without each other), he said the situation between the saffron allies was similar to it.
To a query if he would mediate between the two parties ahead of the Lok Sabha and Maharashtra polls next year, Gadkari said he was too busy with his ministerial work in Delhi and that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and state BJP chief Raosaheb Danve were capable of handling the situation.
Asked further whether he would intervene if the BJP asks him, he said, “Yes I would do so. Anything can happen in politics. There are no permanent friends or enemies.”
On the opposition criticising former president Pranab Mukherjee for accepting the RSS invitation to speak at its function in Nagpur, Gadkari said, “The RSS is not Pakistan’s ISI. The RSS is an organisation of nationalists.”
“Mukherjee’s acceptance of the invitation is a good start. Political untouchability is not good,” he said.
Mukherjee, who has been a Congress veteran, has been invited to be the chief guest at the valedictory function of Sangh Shiksha Varg — a training camp for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh volunteers — at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur, scheduled on June 7.
The former president has accepted the invitation, an RSS functionary said on Monday.
To a question on if he would return to state politics, Gadkari said, “I wasn’t interested when I was shifted to Delhi as the BJP’s national president. Now, I like Delhi and don’t want to come back.”
The Union minister also said that during the 48 months of the Modi government a lot of work was done as compared to the “48 years of the Nehru-Gandhi family rule”.
“(These) 48 months have seen a qualitative performance in socio-economic transformation of the country,” he said.
“We don’t say we have fulfilled all the promises. But the work is in progress. There is a lot to be done in the agriculture field and also to reduce the petrol and diesel prices,” he noted.
“No one is satisfied 100 per cent. ‘Acche din’ (good days) depends on one’s belief,” Gadkari said, when asked about the BJP’s “Acche Din” slogan in 2014 and the present tagline of “Saaf Niyat Sahi Vikas”.
Replying to queries on the opposition’s demand for reverting to ballot boxes in polls, he said malfunctioning of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines was a serious thing and the Election Commission should deal with it.
“If the Congress wins Punjab and forms the government in Karnataka, the EVMs are good and if we win, there is EVM problem. This is immature,” he quipped.
“The Election Commission is an independent and impartial body to conduct polls. The decision whether to shift to ballot boxes from EVMs is to be taken by the EC,” the senior BJP leader said.
Downplaying the row over a controversial audio clip of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis exhorting party workers to win the Palghar bypoll at any cost and using any means, he said the CM’s intention behind making the statement was different.
“I know Fadnavis since his childhood. He is very cultured and sophisticated. His intentions of making the particular statement were different,” Gadkari said.
On the BJP’s promise of separate statehood to Vidarbha region, he said the party was in favour of smaller states.
“For creation of a separate state, there is a constitutional provision of two-third majority in Parliament. Without Congress’ support, Vidarbha can’t be created. Whenever we get adequate support, Vidarbha will happen,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gadkari said Maharashtra’s irrigation potential is 18 per cent at present.
With the Centre’s support to complete 108 pending irrigation projects in the state, the potential will go up to 40 per cent, he said.
The transport minister said that work on the Mumbai-Vadodara stretch of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway project will begin in a fortnight. The total project is estimated at Rs 1 lakh crore and the Mumbai-Vadodara stretch would cost Rs 44,000 crore.
The Expressway will pass through the backward regions of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra, he added.