Interview with Nitin Gadkari on NDTV
Full transcript: Nitin Gadkari speaks to NDTV
New Delhi: Narendra Modi's absence in the heat and dust of the Uttar Pradesh elections has made more news than the presence of many others. Is the BJP's star campaigner sulking? Not at all, says party president Nitin Gadkari, Mr Modi is merely too busy.
Speaking to NDTV's Barkha Dutt, the BJP chief also emphatically states that Mr Modi remains one of party's top candidates for Prime Minister.
Here is the full transcript of the interview:
Barkha Dutt: On the one hand the BJP has reason to celebrate after the civic poll results in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur. But on the other hand it is also facing a serious challenge in the Uttar Pradesh elections in which the party insists that it will emerge as the dark horse. Everybody knows that what happens in Uttar Pradesh in 2012 will have a direct bearing on the shape and form of national politics in 2014. To discuss all this, and all the issues within the BJP, is the party President Nitin Gadkari. Gadkariji, thank you very much for talking to us. Let me start first with how you read the results in Mumbai, Pune and your own area of Nagpur. Many people believe that especially the performance in Nagpur means that Nitin Gadkari has paved the way for his second term as party President.
Nitin Gadkari: This is not the correct analysis. Nagpur is my hometown and first I always insist that my ward, where my house is, a BJP corporator is elected. My village, where I originate from, my party BJP is also elected. My sugar factory, where I am working, there also BJP is elected. I am very much cautious about my grassroots level. First of all, my basic strength is that I am a grassroots worker. I started work from small level. I am very conscious about it so it is a great pleasure for me that on the grassroots level in my hometown, which is one of the difficult constituencies where there are 40 per cent Dalits and Muslims, the BJP has got a historic victory. At the same time I will tell you one thing. One of the significant things in Nagpur is that in one of the most consolidated area of Muslims, where there are 40,000 Muslim voters, a BJP Muslim candidate was elected. And that is one of the interesting things. Some 9,000 Muslims voted for BJP in a hardcore area where only Muslims are there. That is one of the important places for the Muslims. So this is a good indication. I like it very much and I am very proud of it.
Barkha Dutt: We will come to the issue of the relationship between Indian Muslims and the BJP a little later but when you say you are very pleased, in a sense, is it also personal satisfaction for you? Your critics in the past have said that Mr. Gadkari has basically always been a state legislative council leader. And you have already said that you want to contest a Lok Sabha election. In a way, have these victories in Nagpur, you feel, proven a point to your critics who think that you are not a mass leader?
Nitin Gadkari: Actually I am not going to bother about what the critics say about me. It is a fact that I am always in the masses. I am ready to contest any election. Many of the MLAs and MPs they have taken with my photo and they get elected. That is not a problem with me. But fortunately, because of the party's responsibility, every time in the election I am supposed to work and campaign for many candidates. That's why I have not contested the elections. But now, because of my critics and people who say that you are not a mass leader, you are not elected from the public. That inspired and motivated me and so I decided to contest the election. I am confident that I will fight the election in the masses and I am confident that though Nagpur is a most difficult seat, if the party gives me an opportunity then I will contest from Nagpur.
Barkha Dutt: Party will give you the opportunity? But you are the boss. You will decide.
Nitin Gadkari: No. Our party is not the party like father and son and mother and son.
Barkha Dutt: But you are the boss.
Nitin Gadkari: No, no. The Parliamentary Board is supreme. And still, about my decision, it is not my privilege and power to decide about me. It is the party bosses. They will decide whether I contest or not.
Barkha Dutt: But you will contest from Nagpur?
Nitin Gadkari: The party will take the decision.
Barkha Dutt: Where would you want to contest from?
Nitin Gadkari: 2-3 seats are there. Ultimately it is up to the party. The state party and the central party will decide.
Barkha Dutt: Gadkariji, let's turn our attention to Uttar Pradesh. If you were to look at how the media narrative is being built, or even if you look at the public faces of the campaign, it looks like the BJP somehow is nowhere in the big picture. The BSP with Mayawati, despite anti-incumbency, is drawing huge crowds. Akhilesh Yadav has emerged as the next generation leader in the Samajwadi Party. Rahul Gandhi is a very high profile face of the Congress. Who is the one main face of the BJP in UP? Who is the face?
Nitin Gadkari: BJP is a democratic party. Mayawatiji's party is a proprietary concern. So BJP always; we have a lot of leaders who have potential and who have appeal in the masses. Rajnath Singhji is doing very well. He is an ex-Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. He is very popular. And the way his regime was in UP, as the Chief Minister in Uttar Pradesh, still the people of Uttar Pradesh are always reminding of his good work in Uttar Pradesh.
Barkha Dutt: But you said that he does not want to return to state politics. So how is he the face of the party in UP?
Nitin Gadkari: Uma Bharti is there. Kalraj Mishra is there.
Barkha Dutt: But Uma Bharti is not from UP even.
Nitin Gadkari: Who says? Uma Bharti, because of this Ram Mandir andolan, where she starts. She was the icon of that agitation. So how? Uma Bharti belongs to the country. She has got appeal everywhere in all parts of the country. You just take the response that the people are giving to Uma Bharti. Just check it. You come with me. And one thing I will tell you. The perception in Delhi, in between the mind of leaders, journalists, and media, and the ground reality are very different.
Barkha Dutt: What is the ground reality according to you?
Nitin Gadkari: The ground reality is that the BJP is the dark horse.
Barkha Dutt: Is the BJP going to be a number 3 or a number 4? Let's not do rhetoric and say that number 1 or number 2. Let's look at the real picture; number 3 or number 4?
Nitin Gadkari: I will give you the real picture. You record me. I am expecting number one.
Barkha Dutt: You are not serious?
Nitin Gadkari: No, no.
Barkha Dutt: You are just saying that. You are now doing netagiri. You are just saying what politicians say in election season.
Nitin Gadkari: Barkha, I have just visited more than 75 to 80 assembly constituencies. I am working hard for the last month and a half. Now today I am in Delhi after 12 to 15 days. I will tell you. I know the ground reality. The way in which the people are giving response to the BJP campaign, what I have seen in Uttar Pradesh, my positive confidence is telling me that we will definitely get number one. But it is a difficult task. I understand that there are a lot of challenges and it is difficult for us to convince the media because our past performance is not that much. That is why in people's mind they feel that BJP will not get more seats. But the fact is that you go to the people, you come with me. You see. In one constituency where we got only 2,600 votes in the last election, now in a public meeting there were 8,000 to 10,000 people there. There was a very good response.
Barkha Dutt: Isn't it a disadvantage for the BJP that the party does not have a clear Chief Ministerial candidate? Nor does the Congress. I will say that it is an irony that with the two regional parties it is very clear who their leaders are, but with the two national parties it is not clear who their chief ministerial candidates are. And it makes many people believe that it is because the national parties are not game changers in this election.
Nitin Gadkari: First of all, to select a Chief Ministerial candidate is not at all a problem for the party. If I were to decide, considering the opinion of the party leaders, within a fraction of a second I will decide who our candidate will be. That is not a problem. But it is a politically planned strategy ...
Barkha Dutt: To not have one?
Nitin Gadkari: Yes.
Barkha Dutt: Why? Because of the internal divisions within your party?
Nitin Gadkari: These are the political secrets.
Barkha Dutt: These are internal divisions within your party?
Nitin Gadkari: Not at all. You believe me.
Barkha Dutt: Many people were upset when you decided to bring Uma Bharti back. We all know that.
Nitin Gadkari: No, no, no. You just understand. It's not political differences. Within a fraction of a second, it will not even take me one minute to take this decision. Within a fraction of a second we will decide who will be our candidate. That is not the problem. But here is a strategy. It is a planned strategy.
Barkha Dutt: What is the strategy? What is the thinking behind it?
Nitin Gadkari: It is a political secret.
Barkha Dutt: Share a little bit of the secret with us.
Nitin Gadkari: Not that. Uttar Pradesh politics is dominated by caste. We want support from all the castes. Fortunately the Samajwadi Party and the Congress Party are doing appeasement for the minority votes. The reaction in the mind of the backward and even in some high caste Hindus; now in this Batla House encounter case, Salman Khurshid is telling the people that it was very unfortunate for Sonia Gandhi to see the bodies of these terrorists. So these all, there are reactions in the minds of the people. Why are you not going to bother about Mohan Chandresh Sharma? Because he is Brahmin. He is Hindu. So these are things that are in the minds of the people. There is a very, very strong reaction in the mind of the people and they will react at the time of voting.
Barkha Dutt: You are talking about the appeasement of minorities. There is of course a whole debate about quota politics. But Gadkariji, as party President, isn't it a shame for the BJP that you have one Muslim candidate in 403 seats? And that while the Muslim vote is never actually caste or mass; log kehte hain Muslim vote bank, Muslims don't vote as a monolith. But they don't vote for the BJP. These are two true facts that should worry the BJP as a national party.
Nitin Gadkari: First of all, in our constituent Assembly, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, everyone opposed reservation on the basis of religion. Our Constitution never permits any reservation on the basis of religion. That is in the Constitution. Then how is it possible? Because now, as per the decision of the Supreme Court, the Congress or Samajwadi Party or any party, they cannot increase quota more than 50% because it needs a constitutional amendment. For that the two-thirds majority is not there with the Congress Party and Samajwadi Party. So, after the election, if the Congress or Samajwadi Party get the victory, they have to cut the reservation of OBC and Scheduled Castes by which they can give it to the Muslims.
Barkha Dutt: Okay, that's on the quotas. Why do you have only one Muslim candidate? You are a national party. You are not a party only of Hindus. You have been trying to reinvent that image. You have been trying to present the party as a more moderate face. Isn't this a failure for the party?
Nitin Gadkari: In Uttar Pradesh I am also, it's also in my mind also that the Muslim in Uttar Pradesh, in a political situation, they have the choice of the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, Congress and many Muslim parties are there. And as far as the electoral merits are concerned, it was very difficult to give the tickets to Muslims. So this is very unfortunate. But in the whole country our politics, our emphasis is that the politics of the 21st century is the politics for progress and development. We don't want to play any politics on the basis of caste, creed, religion, sex, and language. As far as the Muslims are concerned, we are very much committed to the progress and development of the Muslims. In my own district, I have just given one engineering college for Muslim girls in Nagpur. So I am in support of that. We don't want to make only the vote bank politics with the Muslims. From the core of our heart we are committed to the development of Muslims. We don't want to discriminate against anybody. But unfortunately in Uttar Pradesh, it's one of the negative points for my party and I accept it, that we should have at least had 15 to 20 Muslim candidates but unfortunately we don't have. That is the political strategy in which there is some minus factor with us. And I also feel that.
Barkha Dutt: So you accept that weakness?
Nitin Gadkari: I also feel that.
Barkha Dutt: Do you also accept that the BJP's old style politics, even though you've brought in Uma Bharti? Many people still associate Uma Bharti with the Ayodhya movement. We remember her talking about Mandir and Mandal, but today even she is saying that development is the main issue. Yet many people associate her with Hindutva. Is there an acceptance in the BJP, Gadkariji as President, that Hindutva is now a dead issue politically? Politically it's a dead issue?
Nitin Gadkari: First of all you have to understand what is Hindutva. First you read Vivekanandji. You read the statement given ...
Barkha Dutt: That's Hinduism, not Hindutva. Hindutva is a political concept.
Nitin Gadkari: It is a way of how to run the society. It is related to good governance. It is related to tolerance. It is never a religious subject which you mean Hindutva. So it is a different subject. What my request is, particularly to English media people, that they should understand exactly what Hindutva is and what our feeling is about Hindutva. But I am telling you one thing. Hindutva is not a political subject for us. Hindutva is an inspiration and motivation for our national reconstruction and our nationalism; sanskrutik rashtravad. So there is a different meaning for that. Hindutva never against minority. It is a different thing. But I will tell you one thing. As far as the party is concerned we are committed to the progress and development of this country. And as a new generation leader I feel it very seriously that we are facing the problem of unemployment, poverty. These are the big problems.
Barkha Dutt: So those are the issues?
Nitin Gadkari: These are not the problems that are only being faced by Hindus. These are the problems being faced by Dalits, Hindus, Muslims and everybody. Poverty is there. Uttar Pradesh is a rich state with a poor population. It has got all the potential. Now, a person like me, I am generating the power. Just two districts of UP, the power that they need, is being generated by me in my own area from biomass in fourth generation. Uttar Pradesh has the potential for 50 sugar factories. Uttar Pradesh farmers can generate more than 2,500 megawatts of power. They can make ethanol and they can be an alternative for petrol and diesel.
Barkha Dutt: So those are the issues according to you? Those are the election issues?
Nitin Gadkari: Yes.
Barkha Dutt: I remember you once told me in an interview that while you were a loyal pracharak of the RSS, you actually don't go to temples. I remember you said that. You said that when you are garlanded with flowers that is not even your style. It was quite an interesting insight into your personality. So given that you are not into ritualism, which is what you were trying to say, are you concerned that the BJP must come across as a modern party? And maybe when you put in leaders like Uma Bharti people still associate her with Ayodhya and the Babri Masjid - Ram Mandir dispute. Are you concerned about that? Are you concerned about the shadow of the past?
Nitin Gadkari: First of all I will clear the thing. Any government, any state government needs leadership, vision for leadership, decision making capacity. Then they need credibility and the fifth important thing is a commitment with the nation, society, and the poor man. What my feeling is and what my socio-economic thinking is that the last man of the society, who is socially, economically, educationally backward, whether he is Muslim, Dalit, Hindu, or belongs to any caste, he is a God for us. We want to serve him. We want to change the socio-economic situation. So, eradication of poverty is our inspiration. For that purpose we have to increase the employment potential. We need development in rural areas. We need 24 hour power. We need irrigation to the farmer. We need employment to the youth. We want to create new jobs by using new models. In Uttar Pradesh there is religious tourism. We can increase the employment potential at least 50 lakh
Barkha Dutt: So you are accepting, you are agreeing with what I am saying, that there is no place for religion in politics and the BJP has to learn that lesson from its own past?
Nitin Gadkari: No, that is not the case. It is misunderstood. The meaning of religion, the meaning of Hindutva, and what BJP expects, about it is confused every time in the mind of the people and a section of the media. What my feeling is, you have to understand, without politics, without any reservation, you just see and just study the thing. Even RSS never feels about it. We don't want a theocratic state. We want the judiciary, police and administration to be free from religion. We don't have the opinion in the way in which Pakistan is working. We are not supporting that idea. You should understand what is the exact meaning of the religion. As far as a person like me is concerned, the inspiration and motivation is how can we make India strong? How can we make India a super economic power in the world? Number one? That is the inspiration and motivation for my politics.
Barkha Dutt: Okay, one of your most high profile leaders, often called the Hindutva poster boy in the media, Narendra Modi, is staying far away from Uttar Pradesh. He has stayed far away from Punjab. He has stayed far away from Uttarakhand. You have in the past called him one of your 5 to 6 Prime Ministerial candidates. He is sulking. He is sulking because, as party president you brought in Sanjay Joshi to look after affairs in Uttar Pradesh. Narendra Modi doesn't like Sanjay Joshi. As party president do you not see this as an act of indiscipline?
Nitin Gadkari: The problem is that he is very busy is state politics and some programmes, Sadbhavna Yatra, and that's why it is difficult for him to give time for the campaign and that is the reason ...
Barkha Dutt: Now the Gujarat budget session is starting. So basically he is not going to campaign at all in UP?
Nitin Gadkari: He is busy with some important, I don't know, some important things in Gujarat, that's why he is unable to attend. But you understand, there are 8 Chief Ministers belonging to the BJP. Not everyone is coming to Uttar Pradesh.
Barkha Dutt: Not all of them are described by you as potential Prime Ministerial candidates. All of your other potential Prime Ministerial candidates are campaigning. Only Narendra Modi is not, and you are really expecting us to believe that it is because he is busy? Come on Mr. Gadkari.
Nitin Gadkari: First of all he has already made it clear that he is very much busy in some important work in Gujarat, so he is unable to give time for Uttar Pradesh campaigning. Let us believe it.
Barkha Dutt: Did you ask him to come and campaign?
Nitin Gadkari: Already party had requested him.
Barkha Dutt: And he denied that? He turned down the request?
Nitin Gadkari: Not denied but he is busy with some important issues in Gujarat. That's why he is unable to attend.
Barkha Dutt: Would you say you are disappointed or angry that Narendra Modi has not come to campaign?
Nitin Gadkari: I am the head of the family.
Barkha Dutt: What does that mean? The head of the family, the patriarch, can get angry. He can get upset. Are you indifferent? Which is your response to his not campaigning?
Nitin Gadkari: First of all you just understand. Raj, lobh, matsar, dhvesh, ahankar, these are not words in my dictionary. I am a common worker of the party.
Barkha Dutt: But you are the party President.
Nitin Gadkari: Maybe. But first I am a worker of the party.
Barkha Dutt: One of your most high profile leaders has essentially refused the party's wish for him to campaign in UP?
Nitin Gadkari: No, he is busy in his work. Probably you should ask some questions to him. He will clearly ...
Barkha Dutt: He doesn't give me interviews since 2002.
Nitin Gadkari: I will see that. I will recommend your case to him that please give interview to Barkhaji.
Barkha Dutt: Okay, but more seriously, are you upset? Are you disappointed?
Nitin Gadkari: Not at all.
Barkha Dutt: Will it hurt the party that he has not come or will it indirectly help the party? Because there are some observers who believe that high profile campaigns built around controversial politicians like Narendra Modi, or even a Varun Gandhi from Pilibhit, would have consolidated the Muslim vote against your party. So is it a blessing in disguise? Is that how you see it?
Nitin Gadkari: No. I don't want to make any type of analysis of these all political factors. But the problem is that all the party leaders tried their level best for the party. They are campaigning for the party. Some are busy. That's why it is difficult for them to attend the campaign.
Barkha Dutt: So you don't feel any particular emotion about it?
Nitin Gadkari: No. Not at all.
Barkha Dutt: Or none that you will share with us on camera at least.
Nitin Gadkari: No. First of all I am a party worker, then party President.
Barkha Dutt: Sir, you've been quite a tough party President. In fact, whether it is ticket distribution, whether it is the re-induction of Uma Bharti, you have dealt quite a firm hand when you have needed to. Mr. Modi stayed away from the National Executive meet of the BJP, now he has stayed away from the election campaign. With anybody else you would have acted.
Nitin Gadkari: First of all, I am 100 per cent committed to the party. I am not an ambitious politician. After my accident I decided to give my life to the society, the country, and the poor man. And my feeling is that politics is the instrument of socio-economic reform. I am working with direction. I can commit some mistakes but those mistakes will be bona fide not mala fide. I never make any political conspiracy against anybody. Only the decision that I am taking is that what is in the interest of the party. I am committed to the party and I am committed to the political interest of my party. I am taking decisions on that basis. Somewhere my decision may be correct, somewhere it may not be correct. Some may be good, some may be bad. You people can analyse about it.
Barkha Dutt: Have you personally discussed this issue with Mr. Modi? On why he is staying away? Have you personally had a conversation with him?
Nitin Gadkari: Yes. He has actually conveyed to me that he is very busy with some important matter. That is why it is difficult for him to attend the campaign. Balbir Punj, our prabhari in Gujarat, I have just discussed with him and Modiji has discussed with Balbir Punj and he is telling me that it is difficult for him to give the time for the campaign.
Barkha Dutt: Some would say that the party President should not need to talk to Narendra Modi through Balbir Punj. He should just be able to say "We need you here" and he should come.
Nitin Gadkari: No, no. Meanwhile I have also talked with him. There is no problem for us. He is a respectable leader of the party. He is a good performer, good Chief Minister, who is doing excellent and outstanding work in Gujarat. He is a role model. I appreciate his performance. I accept his leadership and my best wishes are always with him.
Barkha Dutt: Are you concerned how the legal case could turn out for him? Because on the one hand you have media reports that the SIT has said that there is no prosecutable evidence against him in the 2002 riots, and on the other hand you did have the Gujarat High Court making very serious observations against him, ordering the Gujarat Government to basically provide resources to rebuild some of the religious structures that were damaged in 2002. Does this worry you that he continues to be one of your most controversial politicians?
Nitin Gadkari: I am 100 per cent confident that he is fair, he is not guilty. It is a political conspiracy with the help of a section of the media, with the help of a section of the judiciary, with the help of political leadership, particularly the UPA and the Congress leadership. Now there are a lot of; you see in many states, even in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, everywhere, a lot of riots are there but no one is making any inquiry about it. There are 450 encounters, out of which 250 encounters are in Uttar Pradesh. No one is going to make any inquiry for that. Only 19 encounters in Gujarat with the terrorists. Everyone is going to make the inquiry of it. It is unfortunate and shameful for the country.
Barkha Dutt: Fake encounters are shameful wherever they happen Sir.
Nitin Gadkari: Who says (they are fake)?
Barkha Dutt: If they turn out to be fake?
Nitin Gadkari: Now Barkha, people like you in media, out of 19 encounters you are making the argument that every encounter is a fake encounter. The inquiry has started. How can we fight with terrorism and terrorist activity in the country? The Samajwadi Party and the Congress Party are making a tirthyatrra of Azamgarh for giving relief to the families belonging to terrorists. What is going on in this country? What type of politics is this? Is the meaning of secularism the appeasement of terrorists and terrorist organisations? As far as Gujarat is concerned, my party, my government, and my leader Narendra Modi in Gujarat, is not entangled anywhere. And I am 100 per cent confident that he will come from it.
Barkha Dutt: He remains one of your Prime Ministerial candidates?
Nitin Gadkari: Already I have cleared it. Many times with you also.
Barkha Dutt: How many are there? Because sometimes you say 5, sometimes you say 6.
Nitin Gadkari: Probably you remember, in the last interview in Nagpur ...
Barkha Dutt: You just said you are not one of them. Does that remain the case?
Nitin Gadkari: Yes, yes.
Barkha Dutt: That remains the case?
Nitin Gadkari: I am, in any condition, not a Prime Ministerial candidate. Neither am I interested and neither does the party wants to make me a candidate for that post.
Barkha Dutt: So who are the 5 or 6?
Nitin Gadkari: Already I have given you the names.
Barkha Dutt: Why don't you name them again? People have a short memory.
Nitin Gadkari: But your memory is strong.
Barkha Dutt: Okay, is it clear, and you have said this before, that all Prime Ministerial candidates will have to have contested a Lok Sabha election? This you have said before.
Nitin Gadkari: Already, I will just clear that whatever the people are the Prime Ministerial candidates, definitely they are going to contest the Parliamentary elections.
Barkha Dutt: And Mr. Modi is one of those 5 to 6 people?
Nitin Gadkari: Already I have cleared it many times to many media people including you.
Barkha Dutt: Yes, and at some point I think the BJP will have to take a decision on it. But let's come back to UP. Before the Prime Ministerial candidate is the issue of a Chief Ministerial candidate. You said again that in UP there are many candidates?
Nitin Gadkari: You believe me.
Barkha Dutt: Who is the prime candidate? Who is the main frontrunner? Who is your most prominent face?
Nitin Gadkari: Within a fraction of a second at the appropriate time we will take the decision of who will be our Chief Ministerial candidate. I feel that day by day the situation in Uttar Pradesh is so positive. And I am very positive about it. We may get the opportunity to form the government and we will decide our Chief Ministerial candidate in a fraction of a second.
Barkha Dutt: Is it Uma Bharti or Rajnath Singh? The main leader?
Nitin Gadkari: That is the political secret. I will clear it at the appropriate time.
Barkha Dutt: Did you make a huge mistake with inducting Babu Singh Kushwaha? Then you had to put that induction on hold, but he is still campaigning for the BJP. Nationally you created a huge campaign against corruption. In Parliament the BJP got many accolades for running that campaign. Then you go to Uttar Pradesh and you pick up somebody so contentious, accused of such serious corruption, and you continue to defend it.
Nitin Gadkari: First of all, we don't want to support the corruption of any XYZ. He has to face the consequences and the inquiries. So BJP as a party, we never support the corrupt thing of anybody. You must be clear about it. And as far as Kushwaha is concerned there are allegations. Now, the problem is that the media's role is like that. You want to register the FIR, you want to argue the case, and you are also the judge. You can decide the things. So these are not the cases. Let us wait for it. The cases are going on. If he is guilty he will face the consequences. And the second thing, suo motto, he already requested me and suspended his membership.
Barkha Dutt: But he is campaigning for the BJP. Everybody knows that. From an independent platform he is campaigning for the BJP.
Nitin Gadkari: This is a democratic country. The Independent has the right to campaign.
Barkha Dutt: He has the right to campaign but ...
Nitin Gadkari: Why not?
Barkha Dutt: Should you be seeking his support given the corruption allegations around him?
Nitin Gadkari: His problem is that, he is very much committed for his backward people. And his problem is that the Samajwadi Party and the Congress Party is misusing the reservation quota of backward and Scheduled Castes. So he is fighting for that mission. And in that case he is positive and confident that only the BJP is the party that can protect the interest of the backward. That's why he is campaigning.
Barkha Dutt: So you don't regret the decision to have taken him in and then having to put it on hold?
Nitin Gadkari: There is no problem...
Barkha Dutt: You don't think that you made a mistake?
Nitin Gadkari: No. The problem is that he has already suspended his membership. So no question arises of all these questions.
Barkha Dutt: No, but do you feel that you should have handled it differently?
Nitin Gadkari: First of all I clear it. All the decisions. If it is wrong or correct ...
Barkha Dutt: You stand by that decision?
Nitin Gadkari: Already after that Kushwaha himself suo motto suspended his membership, so all these questions are not relevant now.
Barkha Dutt: What will taking him into the BJP depend on? If he is cleared of the charges you will take him in?
Nitin Gadkari: First of all what are the charges on him, he has to face that thing. And after that, already he requested me in his letter, that when I will be free from all these things then I will work for the party.
Barkha Dutt: Mr Gadkari, in Uttar Pradesh it is said that someone like Rahul Gandhi has invested so much, that if the Congress does not do well it will be seen as his failure. I am sure that the Opposition, nationally, will be the first to say that. Conversely, if the BJP doesn't do well in UP, if you don't meet your expectations, whose accountability will it be? Will you see it as yours? Will you see it as Uma Bharti's? Whose accountability will it be?
Nitin Gadkari: President's accountability is important.
Barkha Dutt: So you will see it as yours?
Nitin Gadkari: If there is a victory then it is because of all workers and all leaders. If there isn't a victory then it is my responsibility.
Barkha Dutt: So if it fails the buck stops with you.
Nitin Gadkari: I will take the responsibility. It is no problem.
Barkha Dutt: I will ask you again, because I don't agree with you that the BJP can be number 1, will it be number 3 or number 4?
Nitin Gadkari: I expect BJP to be the dark horse. And I am expecting number 1.
Barkha Dutt: Talk a little bit about how things look nationally. I want to draw your attention to Karnataka where this controversy has taken place where three of your ministers were involved in watching pornographic material in the Assembly. Now the reason that this has angered a lot of people is also that otherwise so many of your leaders in Karnataka act like they are the moral police. There was the whole controversy in the past about closing down pubs at a certain time. There were groups like the Ram Sena who protest against Valentine's Day. On the one hand you have this kind of moral absolutism and on the other hand you have this pornography scandal.
Nitin Gadkari: First of all we have no relationship with the Ram Sena. Probably don't attach the BJP with the Ram Sena.
Barkha Dutt: Do you disapprove of the Ram Sena?
Nitin Gadkari: 100 per cent. We have no relations with the Ram Sena.
Barkha Dutt: But you disapprove of them?
Nitin Gadkari: 100 per cent. We are not in favour of taking the law into your hands and behave like that. That is not the correct thing. We have some opinions about many issues but this is not the way in which to act. As far as the Karnataka incidents are concerned, already we have taken the resignations of the ministers. Inquiry is going on and after that we will decide.
Barkha Dutt: Are you disappointed with what happened in Karnataka?
Nitin Gadkari: Karnataka Government is doing excellent job for Karnataka as far as development is concerned.
Barkha Dutt: But seven ministers have had to go for one reason or another. Is it a problem state for you?
Nitin Gadkari: It is not only BJP's problem. It is the problem in the country that either it is media, either it is politics, either it is education, either it is the social system, either it is the bureaucracy, everywhere the process of erosion is a big problem for the country. We have to think about the political system, political parties, that how can we make our leader capable and at the same time what is the expectation of the people of the country and the society from them? So we have to take a training camp. Now on 24th morning I am in Bangalore and so there is a big camp for the MLAs.
Barkha Dutt: It's a moral class I believe. Moral science.
Nitin Gadkari: It's not moral class. No. First of all ...
Barkha Dutt: Can you teach people morality? Isn't it something that is acquired from life?
Nitin Gadkari: Yes, we can teach everybody.
Barkha Dutt: Is morality something that can be taught?
Nitin Gadkari: First of all, no one is perfect and no one can claim that he is perfect. Uttam, ati-uttam, sarvottam to infinity. So we have to improve the people. We have to give training to the political leaders, the MLAs, MPs. We have to change their vision. We have to increase their potential, their leadership, at the same time their understanding and their commitment for the ideology by the process of training. That is the need of the country. Otherwise you cannot make our democracy strong. So a political party needs a research, development and training institute. I have a plan. In 4-5 states we are going to form a training institute. We are going to form a syllabus. One year.
Barkha Dutt: You are going to have an institute to teach morality? Moral values?
Nitin Gadkari: Not only for morality, for training for good leadership, capable leadership, working for the society, working for the country. At the same time how they can increase the potential of their personality. How they can be more helpful to the people. What are the commitments with the democratic values? The moral values? The character? Everything. And these are the things that we need. Even the media needs a research, development and training institute.
Barkha Dutt: Have you spoken to the three state ministers? Because they are claiming innocence, of course, embroiled in this pornography scandal.
Nitin Gadkari: The inquiry has already been started.
Barkha Dutt: Have you spoken to them?
Nitin Gadkari: After the inquiry we can take the decision. We have already taken a resignation from the three ministers.
Barkha Dutt: Have they let down the BJP's image?
Nitin Gadkari: When Salman Khurshid challenged the Election Commission ...
Barkha Dutt: That lets down the Congress' image.
Nitin Gadkari: Beni Prasad Verma challenged the Election Commission.
Barkha Dutt: Similarly these three ministers ...
Nitin Gadkari: The Congress Party, the head of the Congress Party Soniaji, and the head of the government, Manmohan Singhji, don't want to react. They never give any signal about it. So why not go to ask the people of the Congress Party about what they are doing?
Barkha Dutt: We asked them also. Now we are asking you. We asked them also. Have they let down the image of the BJP?
Nitin Gadkari: The BJP is a mass party. Now we are not a small party. The people coming from the society, the good and the bad people, we have to accept everybody because this is a democracy where every vote, right for every individual, is one. So we are taking the people of the society. Sometime it may happen. We have to improve them. We have to train them. We have to teach them the understanding, the party commitment, the ideology, the system. So it is a process. It is going on.
Barkha Dutt: BS Yeddyurappa wants to be reinstated. Is that a possibility at all?
Nitin Gadkari: So now, already I am clear that whatever the charges from Lokayukta with Yeddyurappaji, if it is to be rectified by any competent court then we will think about it.
Barkha Dutt: You are open to the idea?
Nitin Gadkari: Yes, because Yeddyurappa is a mass leader. And if the charges which are levelled against him by the Lokayukta, I personally feel that it is not justified. But it is a decision from the Lokayukta. Yeddyurappa and the party have challenged this in the court and if a competent court gives a decision that clears the position of Yeddyurappa then we will think about it.
Barkha Dutt: But not before a court verdict clears him?
Nitin Gadkari: Because already, whatever the decision from the Lokayukta we have requested him to resign. So when we want to appoint him we have to at least clear that judgment. Otherwise it will be difficult for us to appoint him.
Barkha Dutt: Gadkariji, nationally there is a huge controversy over Mr Chidambaram's proposal for a nodal anti-terrorism body. And we've seen many different Chief Ministers, non-Congress Chief Ministers, including allies of the Congress, Mamata Banerjee for example, converging in their view on their position on this. Now for the BJP, because Narendra Modi has also written a letter against this, is this a strange position to take? Because you have always made national security one of the main cornerstones of your political philosophy. Now here Chief Ministers are also objecting to a nodal anti-terrorism body. Why?
Nitin Gadkari: First of all, we are always supporting the government in any decision that the government has taken against terrorism and terrorist organisations. But this is not the case. As far as our constitution is concerned, we accept the federal structure of the Constitution. Every time this UPA Congress government wants to disturb the federal structure of the Constitution. That's why the problems which we are facing now. And particularly about this law, I feel that there is also a violation of the federal structure and so it will not be appropriate for the country to continue that Act.
Barkha Dutt: But don't you think that one of the problems in combating terrorism is that right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing?
Nitin Gadkari: Is it not the duty of the Home Minister to consult the Chief Minister and the state Chief Ministers and the political parties and after that he can introduce the Bill? After that he can think about the Act. He doesn't want to think. He doesn't want to discuss. He doesn't want to take the suggestions from the Chief Ministers. He wants to implement. Is this the way for the government to work in a democracy? This is not correct. The national security is not a problem related to the Congress Party or the UPA Government. It is related to all political parties and related to the country. And we are willing to support him.
Barkha Dutt: The Home Minister says, and he has given the example of Raman Singh, where the Centre and the states have cooperated when fighting, for example, Naxalism. I am giving you an example. So shouldn't the Opposition do the same when it comes to matters of national security?
Nitin Gadkari: First of all, in the national security we are open minded and we are ready to support the Government. But as far as somewhere the Central Government wants to disturb the federal structure of the Constitution, which structure permits the state governments about their rights and their duties, if the Central Government wants to disturb that then it will not be appropriate to support it.
Barkha Dutt: So the BJP will not support the NCTC in its present form?
Nitin Gadkari: We should call a meeting of all Chief Ministers and political parties. They should discuss. They should understand what the problem is, what reservation they have. After that the Central Government has the right to decide. Without consulting the Chief Ministers, the state ministers, state governments, and the political parties suo motto Chidambaram is taking a decision just like he has all powers to take the decision. This is not an appropriate thing and because, in many things, even in the appointment of Lokayukta, it is the right of the state government Group of Ministers to recommend a name for Lokayukta to the Governor. Everywhere they want to disturb and violate the federal structure of the Constitution. So we will oppose that.
Barkha Dutt: Many people see the emergence of a third front in non-Congress, non-BJP Chief Ministers joining hands on this issue; Mamata Banerjee, Nitish Kumar, Jayalalitha, Naveen Patnaik on this issue of the terror body. But the BJP, as many people believe, is also wooing Mamata Banerjee. Are you trying to woo her in some way?
Nitin Gadkari: No, no. I never woo to anybody. I stand with my party's convictions. My ideas are open, my conviction is open. I can meet with anybody. I can go to anybody. I have no problem, no protocol, no prestige. But at the same time I will not woo anybody. If anybody wants to come with us, he is welcome. If he doesn't want to come with us it is his wish.
Barkha Dutt: But do you see a potential future relationship with the Trinamool Congress? She has been an ally in the NDA in the past.
Nitin Gadkari: First of all you understand, my only secret formula is if BJP gets more than 176 seats then everyone will try and become friend of BJP
Barkha Dutt: And if it doesn't?
Nitin Gadkari: Then they can say that BJP is a communal party, BJP is a casteist party. There are a lot of arguments with them.
Barkha Dutt: And in UP the same question. Will the BJP be open to an alliance, for example, with the BSP?
Nitin Gadkari: You take an affidavit from me ...
Barkha Dutt: Affidavit? Stamp lagake?
Nitin Gadkari: Yes. Stamp lagake record karlo aur nahi maine kiya to lagao. At any cost, directly or indirectly, we will not make any compromise with Mulayam Singhji and Mayawatiji before the election and after the election.
Barkha Dutt: This is an affidavit?
Nitin Gadkari: Yes. You take it from me. Main ek baar jo baat bolta hoon piche nahi hatta. Takat se keh raha hoon. Otherwise aap din bhar NDTV pe dikha dena ki Nitin Gadkari jhooth bola tha. If anything happens, I will not commit the mistake. Main kabhi nahi galti karoonga.
Barkha Dutt: You have been in an alliance with the BSP before.
Nitin Gadkari: Abhi nahi karoonga. Ek baar galti hui abhi nahi karoonga. Uske parinaam bhugat rahe hai hum log. Aaj jo BJP Uttar Pradesh mein piche aayi, the basic reason is our making alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party. I will not commit that mistake at any cost. If we are not getting a majority then we will be in the Opposition. Whatever the consequences may be we are ready to face them, but we will not cooperate by any direct or indirect alliance with the Samajwadi Party or the Bahujan Samaj Party.
Barkha Dutt: Not even outside support?
Nitin Gadkari: Not at all.
Barkha Dutt: I will test this affidavit after the elections are over. Thank you so much.
Nitin Gadkari: Thank you.
Read more at: Full transcript: Nitin Gadkari speaks to NDTV
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