300 seats for BJP: Nitin Gadkari differs from Ram Madhav’s assessment

New Delhi: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday differed with the opinion of his party colleague Ram Madhav that the BJP could fall short of numbers in the ongoing LS election and asserted it will get more than 300 seats. In an interview to IANS in New Delhi, Gadkari maintained he was not in the race for the Prime Ministership and Narendra Modi will again assume the top post. He expressed confidence the BJP would get clear majority on the basis of the “good performance” of the Modi government over the last five years.

“I am not with the opinion of Ram Madhav. My feeling is we will get a good majority,” Gadkari, the former BJP President said, when asked whether he agreed with the party general secretary’s view that the party could fall short of numbers. Madhav had said in an interview earlier this week, “if we get 271 seats on our own, we will be very happy”, implying he was not expecting the BJP to get the majority figure of 272 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha.

Replying to the query, Gadkari asserted: “The BJP will get more seats than whatever we had in the past. The NDA will get more. Definitely, we will get a majority and Modi ji will be our next PM.” Asked what was the number of seats he expected for the BJP as last time it got 282 seats, he said: “It is more than 300.” About predictions suggesting the BJP may not be able to muster a majority, Gadkari was dismissive and said people are “very much satisfied” with the performance of the BJP government in the last five years when compared to 50 years of the Congress rule. “I am very much confident people will vote for us,” he said.

The senior BJP leader, particularly, pinned hopes on the young generation when his attention was drawn to the fact performance is not the only criteria on which people vote as there are other factors like caste and religion. “Voters think in different ways. Young generation does not belong to any caste, creed, sex or religion. They are very much committed to development and committed to development of ‘New India’ of the 21st Century. And their expectation is high from Modiji and his government.

“So, the young generation is definitely going to vote for BJP and I am confident young generation is increasing in every election and that is the reason people are voting for development,” he said. But he agreed there are “undercurrents on the basis of caste, creed, sex and religion and communal politics also”. In this context, he added “some of the parties, who name themselves as secular are caste parties. And considering the caste equation, they plan their politics. That is the reality”.

Commenting about if he could be the PM candidate if the BJP falls short, creating a need for NDA to attract more parties into its fold, Gadkari said: “I have no such agenda… Only Modiji will become the Prime Minister.” He insisted demonetisation and GST did not have any adverse impact on the BJP’s prospects. “GST is one of the important economic reforms after Independence. Now people are happy with it. In the starting, there were some teething troubles but every day, we are taking positive decisions and resolving issues. Now people are by and large satisfied with GST,” he said.

He also reminded all the political parties had supported the GST, which was rolled out in 2017.On demonetizasion, the senior minister said: “My feeling is the economy has been converted from No. 2 to No. 1. People are paying taxes. They are registering their companies. That is one of the reasons (for checking) black money.” Gadkari termed it “a great victory for our government” that “now no one wants to deposit money in foreign banks, Swiss or somewhere. This is really a great achievement that we stopping money from going out of the country”.

It was pointed out to him that demonetization has not stopped terrorism as promised by the Prime Minister when he announced the sudden decision on November 8, 2016. “It will take some time. Everywhere there are some immediate actions, some mid-term actions and some long-term actions. This is a long-term action. It will take some time for us to get results from that,” Gadkari replied. (Ajay Kaul can be contacted at ajay.k@ians.in)

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