New Delhi: Unfazed by the Congress attack over the letter row involving him, BJP President Nitin Gadkari said he will quit politics if there is any proof of his business links with Ajay Sancheti in the irrigation scam. He said he had asked the Centre to release funds for the Gosikhurd project to help the farmers and not for the benefit of any contractor close to him.
Gadkari also said that Ajay Sancheti did not get a single contract during his tenure as the Public Works Department (PWD) minister of Maharashtra. "If you have got any evidence about my relations with Ajay Sancheti, business relations or with Sharad Pawar...I am going to challenge Congress party and Digvijaya Singh...let’s prove it, I am ready... I will leave the politics," the BJP president said while speaking to CNN-IBN Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai. Noting that there are over 300 such contractors in Maharashtra, he said, "Punish, whoever of them had been committing any wrong."
Gadkari wrote to Union Water Resources Ministry PK Bansal on July 30 this year seeking release of funds for the Gosikhurd project. The BJP chief's detractors allege that it was aimed at benefiting his associate Ajay Sancheti, who is said to be among the contractors for the project. "In Vidarbha, there are 10000 farmer suicide cases. This project is going to help five districts. Land acquisition payments are also pending. The work has also stopped. I have never recommended any names. I am not insisting for the payments to the contractors,” he said, while adding that he had no business directly or indirectly related to Ajay Sancheti.
He also said that he is not an industrialist but a social entrepreneur who wants to help the poor people. "I have taken Rs 400 crore loan from nationalized banks. I have Rs 700 crore loss in my balance sheet. I am working for the poor to stop growing suicide cases," he said.
When asked if a parallel could be drawn between him and Robert Vadra who is facing allegations of getting undue favours from DLF, he said, “There are no similarities.“ He also pointed out that the BJP was silent on the issue since it was first revealed by media 18 months ago, he said, “I was not aware of the issue. Without, evidence, we can’t put fingers at anybody. We have no evidence against Vadra.” However, he also added that the Congress party should order a probe into the allegation by activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal.
On the issue of Prime Ministerial candidate in the coming General Elections, he clarified that he is not in the race for the top post. "I am ready for any post within the party but I am not in the race for PM. We will choose the candidate after the polls."
On the party's Prime Ministerial candidate, Gadkari said, "Appropriate time...we will decide...after the Lok Sabha election...Let us wait for some time, after election what number of seats we will get on that basis we will decide, who will be the candidate." He said "getting majority" is the main aim of the BJP and after the number of seats it gets in the Lok Sabha polls, "we will sit and decide the candidate on that basis."
Gadkari denied that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had made a suggestion to declare the prime ministerial candidate of the NDA before the polls, saying, "He never says like this". The BJP chief also denied there was any rift with its alliance partner JD-U.
On Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi being the BJP's choice as the PM candidate, Gadkari said, "He was one of the frontrunner". "There are many leaders who are capable to become a PM from Advani to Arun to Sushma, Rajnath Singh, Joshi, Narendra Modi, they all are capable for the PM, they all are people's leaders and the group of all capable leaders is the think tank for the party, and we will decide appropriate time who will be our candidate," he said.
Gadkari said it will support any no-confidence motion to be moved by Mamata Banerjee and declared that its Prime Ministerial candidate will be decided after the Lok Sabha polls. "100 per cent. We will support her...there is one formula," BJP President Nitin Gadkari said, adding that the UPA government has no moral authority and lost majority in Parliament after Trinamool Congress quit the coalition.