Nitin Gadkari describes Nehru and Vajpayee as two ideal leaders of Indian democracy
Road transport and highways minister and senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari has described Jawaharlal Nehru and Atal Bihari Vajpayee as two ideal leaders of Indian democracy, pointing out that both respected the Opposition.
The statement, in reply to a question over the stalemate in Parliament, was seen as oblique criticism of the Narendra Modi government’s hostile attitude towards the Opposition.
Gadkari said a “strong Opposition” was essential to keep a “check on the government” in a healthy democracy.
The minister did not attack the Opposition for demanding a discussion on the Pegasus snooping allegations, which the government had refused to concede, leading to the stalemate.
“Atal Bihari Vajpayee aur Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, ye Hindustan ke loktantra ke do adarsh neta the (Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru were two ideal leaders of Indian democracy),” Gadakri told News Nation on Wednesday in reply to a question on the Opposition’s protests during the monsoon session of Parliament.
“Dono kehte the, mai apni loktantrik maryada ka palan karoonga (Both used to say that they would abide by their democratic values),” he added.
The showering of praise on Nehru, who the current leadership likes to blame for India’s problems, will not go down well with the party and the government.
Officially, however, the party sought to ignore Gadkari’s remarks, with some party spokespersons saying they were not aware of what he said.
During the interview, Gadkari hailed Nehru thrice, stressing that the first Prime Minister’s contribution towards India’s democracy was “very significant”.
“Is desh ke loktantra ko yashasvi karne ke liye majboot vipaksh ki bhi awashyakta hai (For making the country’s democracy glorious, a strong Opposition is needed),” he said when asked about the Congress’s decline.
Refraining from attacking the Congress like most BJP leaders, he said: “Pandit Nehru ji ne har samay Atal Bihari Vajpayee ka samman kiya tha, ki loktantra ke liye majboot vipaksh ka hona zaruri hai (Pandit Nehru had always respected Vajpayee because a strong Opposition was essential for democracy).”
The senior leader extended his best wishes for the Congress to become a “strong and responsible Opposition”.
On the washout of the monsoon session, he said it was “very unfortunate” and suggested that the government and the Opposition come together and introspect.
“Vajpayee’s legacy is our inspiration... Pandit Nehru’s contribution towards India’s democracy is also a very significant,” he said. “All parties should introspect... because the Opposition of today is the ruling party of tomorrow and the ruling side today is tomorrow’s Opposition. Our roles keep changing.”
The government continues to attack the Opposition, particularly the Congress, holding it responsible for the deadlock in Parliament. It has also pressed for “strong action” against Opposition members for “denigrating” Parliament.
Gadkari made no mention of this “denigration” in his reply despite being asked about it.
The minister, who represents the Nagpur constituency and is known to be close to the RSS, is regarded as one of the best performing ministers.
He is known to speak his mind and in the process toe a line contrary to the top leadership.
In the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Gadkari had hit the headlines with his remarks aimed indirectly at the party leadership. He had suggested that the leadership should take responsibility for the defeat in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.