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#Politics | Gadkari praise for Manmohan Singh draws Oppn applause: ‘Square peg in a round hole’

Jairam Ramesh reminds Union minister about his Cabinet colleague Nirmala Sitharaman’s critical comments about 1991 reforms, NCP MLA calls Gadkari a “cultured face in politics”.

Gadkari praised former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at an awards ceremony on Tuesday. (File)

The Opposition on Wednesday attempted to play up what it perceives to be differences between Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and other BJP leaders, saying he was the “cultured faced” in politics who respects his rivals.

The Congress and other Opposition parties were referring to Gadkari’s praise for former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at an awards ceremony on Tuesday. At the event, the Union minister praised Singh for introducing the 1991 economic reforms. Gadkari said at the TIOL Awards 2022 event, “Liberal economy ke karan desh ko nayee disha mili, uske liye Manmohan Singh ka desh reeni hai (The country is indebted to Manmohan Singh for liberalising the economy and giving it a new direction).”

Congress general secretary and communications in-charge Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday tweeted, “On 16th September, madam Finance minister had belittled 1991 reforms by terming it ‘half-baked’. Yesterday, the Masterchef Gadkari has baked it fully and well by paying fulsome tributes to Dr Manmohan Singh for the 1991 economic reforms. I hope she can digest it now.”

Former Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha tweeted: “If @nitin_gadkari was the BJP choice for Prime Minister, India’s political culture would not be toxic. Or as confrontational.”

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Rohit Pawar said his respect for Gadkari had increased “further as a cultured face in politics and a firm leader who accepted facts with a big heart”. The NCP’s Pune president Prashant Sudamrao Jagtap called Gadkari a “square peg in a round hole”.

Saying that “Gadkari ji’s image in the country is that of a good honest minister”, Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha of the Congress tweeted that Gadkari “believes in giving respect to the Opposition”. He added, “There is no hesitation in sharing the stage with such a person, both of us aim for the country and society.”

Trinamool Congress’s (TMC) Rajya Sabha MP Jawhar Sircar said, “Good to hear Manmohan Singh being acknowledged by the BJP, but ⁦@nitin_gadkari⁩ has always been quite above pettiness.”

The Congress Seva Dal tweeted, “Not just people in Congress, but the entire nation is indebted to former PM Dr Manmohan Singh for the reforms he has brought to the country and accelerated the economic growth of the country. Thank you Dr Manmohan Singh!”

A ‘single star’

This is not the first time Gadkari’s political rivals have had nice things to say about him. During a debate on the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in April 2017 several Congress leaders complimented him.

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At the time, Congress leader KC Venugopal said Gadkari was a very “sincere” minister who had tried hard to address major challenges facing the road transport sector.

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) member Tathagata Satpathy said Gadkari was a “hard-working person” who was determined to prove that good work could be done even if the government was bad. “Even in the darkest of night, a single star looks bright,” he remarked.

Mallikarjun Kharge, then the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, former TMC leader Dinesh Trivedi (now in the BJP) and a few other Opposition members also complimented Gadkari for his impressive performance, bringing a broad smile on the minister’s face.

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Kharge, while complimenting Gadkari, pointed to the empty treasury benches, suggesting the minister’s party colleagues did not value his hard work as much as they were absent when during the discussion of an important Bill by him.

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(With inputs from PTI)

First published on: 09-11-2022 at 18:07 IST
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