Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday strongly defended the party decision to project chief minister BC Khanduri as its mascot for the ensuing assembly elections.
Rubbishing the charge that the BJP was forced to remove Khanduri’s predecessor Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank owing to the corruption charges against him, Gadkari said: “We decided to fight the assembly elections under Khanduri’s leadership because of his clean image.”
Reiterating that Khanduri would remain the chief minister if the party was voted to power, Gadkari defended Nishank and claimed that the allegations of corruption levelled against Nishank were baseless and politically biased.
“In a democratic set up, political parties keep making allegations against one another,” he said adding that the BJP doesn’t bother about such allegations.
“The party lost no time in removing its former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa once he was indicted by the lokayukta,” Gadkari said.
“Congress should tell us as to what action they have so far taken against Sushil Kumar Shinde and Vilasrao Deshmukh in Adarsh scam, Sheila Dikshit in Commonwealth Games scam or SM Krishna on the basis of lokayukta report in Karnataka,” he said.
“In case of Nishank, he has not been indicted in any case whether it relates to land use changes pertaining to Citurgia (chemical factory based in Rishikesh) or the distribution of hydropower projects among outsiders,” he clarified. Gadkari also sought to defend the ruling BJP’s decision to field majority of fresh candidates for the ensuing assembly elections so as to tackle the anti-incumbency factor claiming that the move had helped the party return to power in Bihar.
Regarding corruption chargesagainst Babu Singh Kushwaha, who had recently quit BSP to join the BJP, Gadkari said the allegations of corruption against him are not proved. “We never support corruption. If he (Kushwaha) is found guilty, he too will have to face its consequences,” he said. On National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam, Gadkari said his party demands strong action against those involved in the scam.
Giving his party the full credit for creating separate hill state (Uttarakhand), Gadkari said development would be the main poll plank of the saffron party in the ongoing assembly elections. On its vision document for the election-bound Uttarakhand, the BJP said that the party would develop tourism in the state to create new avenues for jobs. Besides, the party would also develop the hydro-power sector in the region, he said.
“We will also launch efforts to contain inflation and provide a corruption-free government,” he said. He claimed that Uttarakhand had made good progress in the past 10 years in comparison to the parent state of Uttar Pradesh and the BJP government had played a major role in it.
“For further development, the people of the state should vote for BJP,” Gadkari said.“Five things — leadership, vision, transparency, commitment and will power — are necessary for the development of any place and (Uttarakhand chief minister) Khanduri has all these five things,” he added.