A day after the Congress targeted him for seeking Central funds for Gosikhurd irrigation project in Vidarbha,BJP chief Nitin Gadkari Saturday hit back: Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre too had raised this demand.
In his February 2011 letter to Union Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal,which has since become public,Thakre had said the project will cater to Nagpur,Bhandrara and Chandrapur districts,mainly represented by our party in Lok Sabha and the legislature and if funds are delayed their goodwill will be at stake.
Gosikhurd project figured in the alleged irrigation scam that led to the resignation of deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar last month.
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh has alleged that Gadkari wrote to the Centre for funds for the project because he wanted the contractors to get money,which they didnt deserve.
On Saturday,in an address to a BJP gathering,Gadkari defended himself. He wondered whether he had committed a crime by asking for early completion of the project. Since the project fell in my constituency,people approached me as it was getting delayed, he said. Farmers were committing suicide. Had I not said anything,I would have been accused of remaining silent even when farmers were dying. When I have said something,this is also a problem. I have not written one letter but five and will write ten more, he said.
Besides,the BJP chief pointed out,he was not the only one to raise the demand. I am told the Chief Minister of Maharashtra had also written a letter,so has Union minister Mukul Wasnik. In fact a large number of MPs and MLAs had written letters for the project.
On Digvijayas allegation,Gadkari said there are over 300 such contractors in Maharashtra,punish whomever of them has been committing any wrong.
Meanwhile,at another BJP function,Gadkari said his party was neither anti-Muslim nor anti-Dalit. It is our misfortune,image versus reality and ground reality versus perception. We are not communal,casteist or anti-Muslim or anti-Dalit, he said.