Nagpur MP and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has shut up the voices raised by liberal forces and opposition parties for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene on the Dadri killing issue, saying it was not for the head of the government to comment on each and every incident and he would in any case be damned even if he did.
“Bole to bole kyun? Nahi bole to kyun nahi bole? (If he speaks, they will ask, ‘why did he speak?’ If he does not speak, they will say ‘why doesn’t he speak?’) What’s this going on?” asked Gadkari, one of the seniormost figures in the Modi regime to speak on the issue so far.
“Ab pradhan mantri kya har vishay par bolenge? (Is it the PM’s job to speak about every incident?). There’s the home minister and other ministers. Did Manmohan Singh speak on all issues? Be it any incident, this microscopic minority always blames Modi,” said Gadkari, who handles the roads, highways and shipping ministries in the government.
PM Modi has come under a rising tide of criticism for not unequivocally condemning the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri on the outskirts of Delhi by his fellow villagers on suspicion he killed a cow and consumed its meat. The people behind the killing have been linked to local functionaries of the Bharatiya Janata Party and some party leaders have even made provocative statements, all of which have prompted allegations that it was condoning the killing and was somehow complicit in the crime. Modi’s silence on the issue so far has been seized upon by several authors, intellectuals and political rivals who taunt him saying that while the prime minister is quick to take to social media to comment on relatively trite matters, he chooses not to speak on an issue that has dominated national headlines for nearly a week.
Gadkari called the killing an “unfortunate incident” for which the government would take “preventive action”, but said a section of the media and a “microscopic minority of Left-thinking people” had got their priorities wrong and were conflating every incident with Modi.
“This microscopic minority has not been able to digest that Narendra Modi is the prime minister… These people blame Modi for everything. Weren’t there riots during Congress time? That time nobody asked. Now whenever someone wearing saffron says anything, it’s played three times and people try hard to connect it with BJP, RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and Modi,” he said.
“(The) Government has a broadbased clear-cut idea of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’. We are not against any community or caste,” he added.
During the 16 months or so he has been in charge of the ministry, Gadkari has managed to unclog the approval pipeline, revive stalled projects and increase road construction to 18 kilometres per day from just 2 km when he took over. Under him, 283 stalled projects worth Rs 3.8 lakh crore have already been rolled out and the ministry has awarded contracts to build 8,000 km of roads last year. All of this has earned him praise from industry for being one of most efficient ministers in the government.
Of late, Gadkari has made news for a series of harsh comments on the bureaucracy and Indian officialdom’s propensity to sit on clearances. Last week, he delivered a blunt warning to bureaucrats and said those who did not want to perform could take voluntary retirement, comments that were viewed as unprecedented coming from a senior minister.
On Wednesday, he defended his views and said there was need to bring in “systemic changes” and draft talent from the private sector in the government’s functioning.
“We are encouraging people who do good work. People who are not working have to face consequences,” he said, expressing exasperation that projects don’t get awarded for 3-4 years.
“A country doesn’t work like that. If your salary is delayed, how frustrating is it for you? So, if someone is investing Rs 2,000 crore and you’re delaying his file by three months how much money does he lose on interest? We have to bring in systematic changes,” he said.
“If I have to build a highway, the file comes to me thrice. There is administrative approval, technical approval and several other approvals… We have to change the system. Make it more efficient. We waste so much time on these studies,” Gadkari said, adding that his ministry has laws dating back to 1890 and 1905.
(Source : ET)