Interview: Opposition lying about threats to Constitution, says Nitin Gadkari | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Interview: Opposition lying about threats to Constitution, says Nitin Gadkari

Apr 16, 2024 07:13 AM IST

Referred to as the “Highway Man of India”, Union minister Nitin Gadkari, 67, is seeking his third Lok Sabha term from Nagpur

Nitin Gadkari’s stint as the Union road transport and highways minister over the last decade has coincided with improved road connectivity. Referred to as the “Highway Man of India”, Gadkari, 67, is seeking his third Lok Sabha term from Nagpur. He is confident of winning with a record margin against the Congress’ Vikas Thakre. Gadkari spoke to HT on issues such as road connectivity, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) goal of returning to power by winning over 370 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha, etc. Edited excerpts:

Union minister Nitin Gadkari said the Constitution’s salient features and basic structure cannot be changed. (HT PHOTO)
Union minister Nitin Gadkari said the Constitution’s salient features and basic structure cannot be changed. (HT PHOTO)

How do you see the BJP’s poll prospects in Maharashtra and nationally?

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We will perform better in Maharashtra than in 2019...the [ruling] Mahayuti alliance is getting an overwhelming response. In 2019, we got 41 out of 48 seats along with the united Shiv Sena. [This time] the [ruling] alliance could get 45 seats ....Modi’s magic is visible in Maharashtra as it is all over the country. Before 2014, people were upset with the policy paralysis of the Congress-led UPA [United Progressive Alliance]. This gave us an edge. In 2019, development ensured another victory. ...we can say what the BJP achieved in a decade, the Congress failed to in 60-65 years. People have reposed faith in [Prime Minister Narendra]’s Modi government, which will be re-elected with a record margin. There is positivity due to the development over the last decade and the BJP-led NDA [National Democratic Alliance] will cross the 400-plus seats. We are performing better in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala too.

Also Read | Nitin Gadkari on eliminating petrol, diesel vehicles in India: ‘100% possible'

What is your response to fears that the BJP could change the Constitution and form a dictatorial government if it returns to power?

The opposition is trying to terrorise people by spreading lies about the threat to the Constitution. The Constitution’s salient features and basic structure cannot be changed. In the Kesavananda Bharati case, the Supreme Court said no part of the Constitution, including fundamental rights, was beyond the Parliament’s amending power but the basic structure cannot be changed...By pushing such a false narrative, the opposition is trying to mislead minorities, Dalits, etc to get votes. They would not succeed in such misleading campaigns.

What are your views about Rahul Gandhi’s two yatras and Congress’s poll prospects?

I do not think Congress will benefit. The Congress is synonymous with corruption and scandals. The BJP epitomises development, administration, and good governance. The Congress will not be able to increase its seat tally.

How do you appraise your stint as a Union minister over the last 10 years?

I am satisfied with my performance. When I took charge of the ministry first in 2014, I sought to develop the road network at par with the US by 2024. Now, I can claim that our network would be equivalent to the US. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream is to make India a $5 trillion economy, self-reliant, and a super economic power. ...roads are very important to achieve this target. Building infrastructure is very important. This is why the Prime Minister has since 2014 given the highest priority to infrastructure development. I am fortunate that I could fulfil the mission.

Also Read | Will Nitin Gadkari's sons join politics? Here's what Union minister said

You are considered among the BJP’s top leaders and Union ministers. How do you rate yourself as a politician?

I am not a career politician, but rather a social worker. I believe politics is the instrument of social and economic reform. Politics consists of 80% of social work and 20% of politics. I am doing social work, particularly in agriculture, water conservation, and biofuels. I am just a mediocre person, not a highly qualified one. I am not so intelligent...but have been conferred six D Lits from different universities. I have received respect and love from all sections of people who appreciate my work as a minister. It is beyond my imagination. I still feel that I do not in fact deserve what I have got. It is the sheer love of the people. I know my limitations.

What would be your choice of portfolio if the BJP returns to power?

My portfolio or responsibilities in the government are the prerogative of the Prime Minister and the party brass. I do not think of tomorrow. I am a [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] Swayamsevak [volunteer], a committed BJP and social worker. This is my identity. You may be an ex-chief minister, ex-minister, or ex-member of Parliament but a party worker will always remain one. I am content with whatever I am. I am a committed BJP worker with conviction, not a politician by calculation. I believe in Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas [equal development]. Under Modi, the NDA government is doing a commendable job. I am confident we will again form the government for the third time. I will be comfortable with whatever responsibility is entrusted to me.

How do you rate Thakre, your Congress rival in Nagpur? Do you consider this election a tougher challenge than 2019?

I am confident of securing a hat-trick of wins with a record margin of over 500,000 votes. My focus will be on highlighting my 10-year track record rather than being concerned too much with who is my opponent. I do not underestimate my rival. I am relying on the achievements in my constituency such as the establishment of AIIMS [All India Institute of Medical Sciences], IIT [Indian Institute of Technology], and IIM [Indian Institute of Management], metro rail in Nagpur, enhanced connectivity, and the creation of jobs for thousands of unemployed youths...

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