Transport minister Nitin Gadkari has been at the forefront of defending the land bill. The minister is confident of defeating the Opposition’s anti-BJP campaign. He spoke to Kumar Uttam on issues confronting the government.
What, according to you, is the single biggest achievement of the Narendra Modi government in its first year?
There has been a marked improvement in GDP figures, inflation has come down and corruption has been checked. But I feel it is not just to judge any government in the first year of its rule. This country has seen 60-65 years of Congress rule. Give us 60 months at least. If we fail to live up to peoples’ expectations, we will face the consequences.
Could you have handled the land bill in a better way?
We accepted the suggestion of the Biju Janata Dal. The problem is that despite acknowledging that the bill is good, some parties feel there is a perception about the bill going against farmers’ interests. Hence, they have an issue in supporting us. This is politics.
Do you think the government is facing a perception problem?
Our economics is clear. We will not do anything against the poor, farmers, labourers or villages. We are acquiring land to create rural infrastructure, jobs, roads and electricity which will benefit the poor and farmers. The Congress party never thought about it when farmers’ land was taken away by their government in Haryana and given to builders.
Can reforms and issues like Ghar Wapsi go hand in hand?
A nun was raped in West Bengal and the two youths arrested in this regard were Bangladeshi Muslims. When I spoke about it, there was a controversy. Even the Delhi church attack was an act by some drunken youths. BJP, RSS or the government has nothing to do with it. This is Congress’s strategy to create fear among people.
How do you respond to Congress’ criticism of your government being pro-rich?
They alleged Modi wore a suit worth `15 lakh. Do they have its bill? It was given to him by a family that has known him since his pracharak days. I can understand Congress’ desperation to confuse people. There is a sense of frustration and disappointment so it is natural to lose your mental balance and make some statements. We should forgive them from the core of our heart.
But isn’t it alarming that even your own MPs and allies have started questioning the government?
We are not a party owned by a family. We are a democratic organisation and you will keep hearing such voices. Even the media keeps looking for such “discordant” voices to highlight them.
Do ministers in the Union government have autonomy?
Everybody has autonomy in this government. We keep our views in front of the PM and even lodge our protest against him sometimes. This is being deliberately spread by our rivals to confuse people.
Senior ministers have met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in the past one week. Is the RSS worried about the performance of the Centre?
The meeting is not extraordinary. Mohan Bhagwat is in Nagpur for eight days to attend an RSS training camp. People are reading too much into these meetings.