Unfazed by the Congress attack over the letter row involving him, Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari on Saturday said that even Congress Chief Minister of Maharashtra Prithviraj Chavan and its state chief Manikarao Thakre had written letters in favour of the Goshikhurd project.
"What crime I committed when I wrote a letter (in favour of the Gosikhurd project). Since the project fell in my constituency, people approached me as it was getting delayed.
"Congress state chief Manikrao Thakre also wrote a letter...In my knowledge, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra also wrote a letter... Union Minister Mukul Wasnik (also an MP from Maharashtra) also wrote letter. In fact a large number of MPs and MLas wrote letters for the project," Gadkari said addressing a national convention of BJP's economic cell.
Gadkari's remarks came a day after AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi in a hard-hitting attack questioned his interest in writing the letter for the project and said that there has to be some relation between him and the contractor of the project. Dwivedi also said that the BJP will dig its own grave if Gadkari continues to remain its president.
The BJP chief wondered whether it was a crime on his part to ask for early completion of the project.
"Farmers were committing suicide. Had I not said anything, I would have been accused of remaining silent even when farmers in my constituency were dying. When I have said something, this is also a problem. I have not written one letter but five and will write ten more," he said.
Noting that there are over 300 such contractors in Maharashtra, he said, "Punish, whoever of them had been committing any wrong."
Alluding to the Congress, which has a coalition government in Maharashtra, Gadkari said, "You are the ones, who gave the contract, you are the once who delayed the project escalating its cost from Rs 800 crore to Rs 14000 crore. You are the once who dealt in money and now I am being blamed when I ask for early completion of the project."
Addressing the convention on "Socio-Economic Development and Allocation of National Resources", Gadkari also took a dig at the Congress party without naming it.
"We (BJP) are a democratic party. We are not the party of mother-son or father son....BJP's purpose is not to make an individual prime minister or chief minister," he said.
Laying out the future roadmap for the BJP, he recognised the need to increase its basic vote share and talked of liberagenda for the party with emphasis of "poverty eradication".
"The spirit of the party is the eradication of poverty, increasing employment. The party's spirit is that all are equals and not playing politics on the basis of caste creed and sex," he said, adding that the party is also focussed on measures for the development of the minorities.
He said that there is a need to increase the basic vote share of the BJP by at least 10 percent
Replying to questions by delegates, the BJP president said that his party was against FDI in retail as "it will shut the door on employment of Indians" but added "broadly we are in favour of economic reforms but it's not that we will support any measure initiated by anybody".
He said that current problems of underdevelopment and unemployment in the country is due to the "sin of wrong policies implemented by Congress" and stressed the need to increase the "happy index" in the country.
"First Jawaharlal Nehru gave the slogan of Garibi Hatao, then Indira Gandhi gave the same slogan. Rajiv Gandhi also gave the same slogan. Now Nehru's great grandson (Rahul Gandhi) is giving the same slogan," the BJP chief said in a dig at the Congress leadership.
Image: BJP president Nitin Gadkari