Clearing the air on speculations around quitting politics, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has said that he has no such plans, while asserting confidently that despite the Opposition's attempts to corner the Narendra Modi-led government over a number of issues, it will come to power for the third time in 2024 on the plank of positive agenda and developmental works under the leadership of PM Modi.
During an interaction with IANS, Gadkari spoke on a range of issues, including the functioning of the government, accusations levelled by the Opposition and speculations suggesting that he might quit politics.
Here are the excerpts:
IANS: The NDA has completed nine years at the Centre. A special campaign is being carried out across the country on this occasion while also listing the achievements of the government. However, the opposition parties, especially the Congress, have been quite critical of the government's functioning...
Gadkari: We are celebrating Amrit Mahotsav on the occasion of the 75th year of the country's Independence. Of these 75 years, Congress got the opportunity to work for almost 60 years. But we can say that whatever the Congress could not do in 60 years, we have done more than that in nine years.
India is a rapidly progressing major economy. In the coming days, India will become a 'super economy' of $5 trillion. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership, India will become 'Vishwaguru'. We are getting good results and will achieve success in the coming times as well.
IANS: But the Opposition has been accusing your government of choking democracy, putting pressure on the Constitutional bodies, and Rahul Gandhi is even accusing your government of doing phone-tapping...
Gadkari: The Opposition parties have been talking like that just to play its role of being in the Opposition. We will, however, reach out to the people on the strength of our positive work, and seek their support. People can see the development that's taking place.
Highways are being constructed, world-class railway stations and new airports are coming up. Industries are setting up business, and exports are increasing. If we look at the government programmes, every single individual will benefit in some way or the other. Hence, I believe that we will receive the support of the people, and in 2024, our government will get re-elected.
IANS: The opposition parties are also busy forming fronts against your government for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls...
Gadkari: In politics, two plus two is never four. We are confident that we will put up a good performance on the basis of our work under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. People will elect us once again for the sake of the country's development.
IANS: What's the biggest achievement of your Ministry according to you?
Gadkari: When I became the Minister in 2014, around 1 crore people were engaged in transporting (carrying) people. Then I brought e-rickshaws into the picture, and today, I can say that the practice of humans transporting humans has almost ended. In fact, today, even specially-abled persons and women are operating e-rickshaws.
Around 1.5 crore got employment due to this, and the pollution level has also reduced. This is an affordable option for the under-privileged as four persons can travel together at the same time on an e-rickshaw. I got roads, highways and tunnels constructed, and I consider all these works as my as well as the government's biggest achievement.