Published On : Mon, Apr 1st, 2024

NDA will cross 400 seats in LS polls with gains in Southern India: Gadkari

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Nagpur: Expressing confidence in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of securing 370 seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, BJP leader Nitin Gadkari predicted that the party will augment its current 288-seat strength with gains in Southern India.

In a wide ranging interview with a news agency at his residence in Nagpur, Gadkari said there is “no doubt” in his mind that the BJP-led NDA alliance will cross 400 seats and that Modi will take over as Prime Minister for a third term because of the solid work done by the government in the last 10 years.

“There is no need to make a state-wise analysis. This time we will taste success in the South. The work we have done in the south and the northeast in 10 years under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, we have started getting results of the same,” he said.

“We have worked hard in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. We had very little presence in these states. This time we will do well in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. We have been performing well in North India. So, I feel the BJP will alone get 370 seats and the NDA will cross 400,” Gadkari added.

Gadkari outlined the BJP’s strategic focus on making inroads in southern states, particularly Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, highlighting the groundwork laid over the past decade as yielding promising results. He maintained that the BJP’s proactive efforts in these regions, coupled with its strong performance in northern India, will culminate in the achievement of 370 seats for the BJP alone and over 400 seats for the NDA.

Addressing allegations of the government’s alleged use of Central probe agencies to undermine the opposition, Gadkari challenged detractors to bolster their standing through public trust rather than relying on sympathy. Gadkari refuted speculations of the BJP falling short of a majority and dismissed any notion of interference in the Prime Ministerial race.

“Is it our responsibility to make the opposition weak or strong? When we had just two MPs and were weak, we never got any package out of sympathy,” Gadkari, who is seeking a third Lok Sabha term from Nagpur, said.

Gadkari launched his campaign with a massive road show on Saturday through Nagpur, his motorcade crawling through a sea of supporters who withstood 40 degrees Celsius temperature to welcome the local hero. The programme, which was to take two hours ended four hours later as supporters covered him with gulal and insisted on offering him snacks every time he stopped.

Gadkari said the BJP emerged stronger over the years due to the sheer hard work of its workers and the opposition too has to make efforts to earn the people’s confidence. “The nature of democracy is such that this keeps changing. Whatever role you play, you always have to make efforts and overcome adversity. This is important for any opposition party,” he said.

The senior BJP leader said the people of the country want to see development and have faith in the leadership of Modi, which will be reflected in the elections. To a question on the claims by certain quarters that the BJP will fall short of the majority mark, which in turn could trigger a race for the post of the Prime Minister, Gadkari responded vehemently: “Not at all!”

“We are completely confident that we will get a complete majority and will also cross the 400 mark and Narendra Modi ji will become the country’s Prime Minister for the third consecutive term. There is no doubt about this in my mind,” he said.

Questioned about his personal agenda for the centenary celebrations of the RSS in 2025, the ideological fountainhead of the BJP, Gadkari said his “personal agenda” was only towards his constituency that has elected him.

“I do not have any personal agenda. RSS will spell out its agenda. Whatever their expectations, it is our responsibility to fulfil them,” he said. He was also asked if there is lack of level playing field in the elections due to the arrest of opposition leaders, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, and the income tax notices amounting to Rs. 3,500 crore on the Congress party.

The Union Minister said the law was “taking its own course” and the BJP or the government had nothing to do with it. “We have not taken any action on our own. The cases have been registered as per the law. This has nothing to do with the BJP or Modi ji. The agencies keep doing their jobs,” Gadkari said.

The senior BJP leader dismissed opposition allegations of the government weaponising the ED, CBI and Income Tax department, which were taking action in cases related to opposition leaders. “This is completely wrong. We are not weaponising anybody. The law takes its own course. Now, if Rs 300-400 crore are found in anybody’s home, people also see it. Then there is an inquiry. If anyone has done wrong, action is taken. If anybody is aggrieved, they have the option to move court,” he said.

Gadkari was also dismissive about the uproar over the revelations of donations made through electoral bonds and said it was but natural for the BJP, which is the ruling party, to get a major share in the donations.

“Even in television media, those who have greater TRP get a good rate in advertisement. Those who have less TRP, get advertisements at a lower rate. Today, we are the ruling party, hence we got more donations. If tomorrow any other party comes to power, it will get more donations,” he said.

Gadkari said there is no substance in the opposition’s claims that the BJP is indulging in “washing machine politics” — absolving opposition figures facing corruption charges if they agree to join the party. “There is no such thing. The law takes its own course. The agencies do their work on the basis of the evidence they gather. This allegation is completely wrong and baseless. No such work takes place,” he said, responding to opposition allegations of BJP being a “great washing machine”.

On the CBI clean chit to NCP leader Praful Patel in the Air India corruption case, Gadkari said the action had nothing to do with the BJP or the Prime Minister. “The truth came out in the inquiry,” he said.

Gadkari who won with a margin of more than two lakh seats in the 2019 elections said his goal this time is to win by a five lakh margin. He said he is confident of getting minority and Dalit votes this time. Pitted against him is Vikas Thakre of the Congress, a former Mayor and MLA from West Nagpur who also has good grassroots connect with people.

BJP won 303 seats on its own in the 2019 elections but its tally in the outgoing Lok Sabha is now 288. This follows some by-poll losses and resignations of some MPs after they recently moved to State assemblies.