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Friday, Dec 09, 2022

How a video clip triggered a string of tweets from Nitin Gadkari: ‘Nefarious campaign’

Sources close to him say there have been a series of instances when the minister's words were allegedly twisted and taken out of context

Gadkari was dropped earlier this month from the BJP parliamentary board. (File)

Union Minister and senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari on Thursday shot off a string of tweets alleging a “nefarious and fabricated campaign” against him for “political mileage” by a section of the media, who, he said, were “concocting” his statements. The minister has warned of legal action “in the interest of the government, party and millions of party workers”.

The BJP veteran’s tweets came amid reports that both the BJP leadership and leaders of the Sangh were upset with him for his “repeated” public statements, which were seen as having embarrassed the government and the party. The reports also suggested that Gadkari was dropped earlier this month from the BJP parliamentary board, the party’s apex decision-making body, because his repeated jibes at the party and government at the Centre had ended up annoying the RSS leadership.

However, Gadkari’s office said there have been a series of instances since 2018 when the minister’s words were allegedly twisted and misinterpreted. “Many of them were taken out of context to create a controversy. These were done by fringe elements in the media and social media and ended up creating confusion and dilemma among party leaders and workers. In fact, many of them were misleading too,” said a source close to the minister.

Between 2017 and 2018, ahead of the last Lok Sabha elections, Gadkari’s name had been propped up by a section in the party as the prospective prime ministerial candidate. “This was also a mischief. Neither the minister nor his office started this campaign; it was not even our agenda. The minister’s stand was clear and we kept clarifying it. Every statement from the minister was linked to the BJP leadership,” the source said, adding that Gadkari was “hurt and upset” over the “intensifying campaign” against him of “projecting him as the rebel in the government who wants to take on the Prime Minister and other top leaders of the party”.

However, sources in the party said the minister’s remarks have indeed been embarrassing both the BJP and the government. “There is an impression in the media that the senior minister has the backing of the Sangh and his comments indicate the so-called widening gap between the RSS and the BJP leadership. Whether it is with or without the support of the minister or his office is immaterial here because (the remarks) embarrass the government,” said a BJP leader.

Sources said if that the BJP leadership decides to drop Gadkari from the government, it’s unlikely that the RSS will raise any objection.

On Thursday, Gadkari posted the series of tweets expressing his annoyance at what he called a “fabricated campaign” against him.

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“Today, once again, efforts were being made to continue the nefarious & fabricated campaign against me for political mileage on my behest by some section of mainstream media, social media and some persons in particular by concocting my statements…I will not hesitate to take them to the law in the larger interest of our Government, Party and millions of our hardworking Karyakartas,” the minister posted, along with a video of his speech at the launch of a book in the national capital on Tuesday.

The minister’s reaction was to some websites putting up a portion of his speech, which was interpreted as Gadkari’s response to the party dropping him from the parliamentary board.

“Let it go… It does not matter to me if I lose my position. I am not after any post… I will see what happens. I am an ordinary person. I am someone who likes to eat from roadside stalls, watch movies on a third-class ticket and watch the drama from behind… I leave my Z-Plus security behind and walk on the footpath,” Gadkari says in the clip.

However, in the original video, which the minister shared online, the remarks are part of an incident from 1996-97 that he narrates. He talks of a case of 2,500 children dying of alleged malnutrition in 1996-97, and how, amid a series of brainstorming sessions over the lack of facilities in the region, officials had expressed their helplessness about fixing the problem. According to Gadkari, he asked the then chief minister (Manohar Joshi) to leave the issue to him. “I told him I would do it. If possible, you stand with me. Even if you don’t, I do not mind. I do not care about the position… If it goes away, let it go. I don’t mind…,” he says.

Another remark that the minister made earlier this week – on the delay in the implementation of a project – was seen as a comment on the Central government. “Time is the most important thing in construction. Time is the biggest capital, the biggest problem is the government is not taking decisions on time,” he was quoted as saying. However, Gadkri’s office said the minister was referring to bureaucratic delays in the implementation of the project.

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Party leaders close to Gadkari say the “campaign” against him “intensified” after he was dropped from the parliamentary board and the central election committee, both of which were reconstituted last week. Gadkari and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan were dropped from the two key bodies, triggering intense speculation in the party.

There have also been rumours that Gadkari could be dropped from the Union government and that the top leadership is keen to replace him with Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, another Brahmin leader from the state who is considered to be close to the RSS leadership. But leaders close to Gadkari say the party veteran won’t react to any such talk. “He is of the view that keeping a minister in the Cabinet is the Prime Minister’s prerogative,” said one source.

However, the source added, “The question is, what could be the reason for dropping him. If it is performance, Gadkari is one of the best performing ministers in this Cabinet. If it is age, he is just 65. If you want to cite indiscipline, how do you justify it — would you cite some twisted reports and misinterpreted statements?”

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While Gadkari and Chouhan were dropped from the parliamentary board, the 79-year-old former Karnataka chief minister B S Yediyurappa and 76-year-old former Union minister Satyanarayan Jatiya were inducted.

First published on: 25-08-2022 at 05:12:37 pm
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