Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday said he does not aspire to be the prime minister and is “content” with what he has achieved.
Asked about strained relations of the Bharatiya Janata Party with allies -- the Telugu Desam Party, Shiv Sena and Akali Dal -- and if he could emerge as a consensus candidate if his party fails to get the required numbers in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he said the BJP would retain power under Narendra Modi’s leadership.
“I am content and not dreaming of becoming the prime minister nor do I aspire for it. I am confident that the party has elected Modi and under his leadership alone we will fight and win the 2019 election,” the Union minister said at the India Today Conclave in Mumbai.
“I don’t see such dreams. I work as per my ‘aukaad’ and ‘haisiyat’ (status and capacity). I have not given my photo to anyone, never passed my biodata or put up my cutout anywhere. Nor does anyone come to airport to receive me. I work as per my ability,” Gadkari, who holds Transport and Shipping portfolio, said.
He exuded confidence that all allies of the BJP would come together for the next general elections, but parried a specific question on whether the Shiv Sena, which has gone public with its intention of going solo, will be with it, saying there is nothing certain in politics.
Drawing from a popular Marathi phrase, he said even though they might be bickering, it is not possible for the allies to do without the BJP.
Interestingly, the BJP leader also made it clear that even though he loves Maharashtrian culture, he has settled well in New Delhi after initial difficulties and has no intention to return to Mumbai.
The minister also said a false perception has been created about Modi and asserted that the prime minister is “democratic” who listens to others on important policy matters.
Gadkari cited specific instances like the policy on oilseeds where he has publicly differed with the prime minister and added that cabinet meetings last for over four hours at times.
Even after cabinet meetings, ministers, including External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, often hold meetings with Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, he said.
Modi is much disciplined and a person of convictions in his personal life, which may lead some to believe that he is very stiff, Gadkari said, reiterating that this does not mean that he will not listen to anyone.
To a question on whether the BJP under Shah and Modi is different than under earlier leaders, he seemed to suggest that change is the only constant and one has to be so.
When asked about BJP’s slogan of ‘Achche Din’ and if the party will be going to the electorate with a message of having delivered on the promise, Gadkari said human aspirations are limitless and belief in ‘Achche Din’ is based on a person’s ability in admitting the same.
He said availing ‘roti (food), kapda (clothing) and makaan (housing)’ can make a person believe in the ‘Achche Din’ slogan and enumerated the steps taken by the Modi government to address these needs of the people.