Gadkari echo in rivals' gallery

Opposition MPs lavish praise on minister, BJP betrays Modi jitters

  • Published 8.04.17
Nitin Gadkari

New Delhi, April 7: The BJP members may be chanting only "Modi, Modi..." but in the Lok Sabha today, the chorus was "Gadkari, Gadkari...."

The treasury benches were bemused as several BJP rivals heaped praise on Nitin Gadkari, the road transport, highways and shipping minister. Rarely does the Opposition praise a minister the way it extolled Gadkari today.

"I personally would have been so happy to see him riding in the jeep in the Chenani--Nashri tunnel which he is primarily responsible for having completed in record time. He is the man who should get the credit," BJD member Tathagata Sathpathy said during a debate on amendments moved by Gadkari to the Motor Vehicles Act.

Sathpathy was referring to the inauguration of the nation's longest road tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday by Prime Minister Modi who rode in an open jeep during the event. Gadkari, as the highways minister, was present but Modi stole the spotlight. Gadkari, the MP from Nagpur and a former BJP president, is perceived to be close to the RSS and, according to sources, among the few ministers who can dare to differ with Modi.

Praise also came from the Congress. "I would like to state that in the Narendra Modi ministry, a few ministers are performing well. Among them is Shri Nitin Gadkari," Congress MP K.C. Venugopal said.

Adhir Chowdhury

The Congress's House leader, Mallikarjun Kharge, weighed in. "He (Gadkari) is performing well. He has extended roads, highways...," Kharge said while pointing towards empty treasury benches and appearing to suggest there was not much appreciation of his good work in the ruling establishment.

Bengal Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury did his bit too. "The (motor vehicle amendment) bill has been piloted by our honourable minister (Gadkari), who is always regarded as a competent minister," Chowdhury said, concluding his speech with a Hindi couplet wishing Gadkari "success". He didn't elaborate what he meant by "success".

Some BJP members looked uneasy with the swelling tide of plaudits. That was evident when Hamirpur MP Puspendra Singh Chandel spoke. He credited Gadkari for bringing the bill but soon went on to hail the "leadership of Narendra Modi".

Most BJP members patted Gadkari over the bill but unlike the Opposition, didn't forget to praise the leadership of Modi. An exception was Gopal Shetty. The BJP MP from Mumbai North said "Gadkari had carved out a place in the hearts of leaders cutting across political lines".

But it was not praise all the way. Congress member Venugopal called Gadkari "a villain" over his role in helping the BJP form a government in Goa last month despite a split poll verdict. "I can't approve of the role which he had taken in Goa...He took on a villain's role in Goa," Venugopal said.

Replying with a smile, Gadkari dropped thinly veiled hints that he succeeded because the Congress leadership, particularly Rahul Gandhi, was "sleeping".

"Your hero slept that night. Why are you blaming me and calling me a villain? Had your hero not slept, his film would have succeeded."