New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Nitin Gadkari on Thursday said that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is one of the party's prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Talking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Gadkari said, "Modi has got the potential for becoming the Prime Minister."
Gadkari's statement came a few hours after the Special Investigation Team (SIT) report on Gulbarg Society massacre during the 2002 Gujarat riots placed before a Ahmedabad court found no prosecutable evidence against Modi.
Transcript of Nitin Gadkari's interview with Rajdeep Sardesai:
Rajdeep Sardesai: The reports are now indicating that Narendra Modi may get a clean chit in one of the major Gujarat riot cases, do you still see Narendra Modi as a potential prime ministerial candidate of the BJP or the NDA in 2014, particularly if he gets a clean chit in the Gujarat riots?
Nitin Gadkari: Already I have cleared it that the BJP has got a lot of potential leadership who is capable of becoming the Prime Minister. Now, Modi is also one of the leaders, he has also got the potential for that. There are five to six leaders, and at the right time the party will decide who will be the prime ministerial candidate for 2014.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Does that include Narendra bhai also?
Nitin Gadkari: 100 per cent. Those five to six leaders also include Narendra bhai.
Rajdeep Sardesai: One question which is troubling people is why is Narendra Modi not campaigning in Uttar Pradesh? First phase of the elections are over, Mr Modi has not even campaigned once, will you concede that there is some problem as a result of which Mr Modi is not campaigning in Uttar Pradesh? Is this something that concerns you?
Nitin Gadkari: First of all from the national party we have already made a request to Narendraji that he should give some time to Uttar Pradesh and other states for elections. Now, he has to find out the dates for that, the matter is with him, he has to decide about it.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Sir you are being diplomatic. He is your star campaigner in all other states, but he does not campaign across Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab, is it because Sanjay Joshi was made in-charge of the state and Narendra bhai was upset with it. Be honest sir, somewhere has it hurt Narendra Modi, you have discussed it with him?
Nitin Gadkari: I'm too honest and too transparent, but I admit that as a politician and as the President of the BJP it will not be appropriate for me to tell you every honest reason for it. But I accept that Narendra bhai is a stalwart, a leader of the party and still we are expecting dates from him and if he will give his dates, we will manage.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Your smile is giving you away. Somewhere are you disappointed; he is supposed to be your top leader, you have yourself said he is a potential prime ministerial candidate, should he not be campaigning in Uttar Pradesh?
Nitin Gadkari: I'm the head of the family, it's my duty to take everybody with me and I have tried my level best to take all the leaders of my party with me and that is the mission of my party.
Rajdeep Sardesai: But have you failed in that, that it remains a divided parivar at some level? There are personality clashes which are preventing you from being as united?
Nitin Gadkari: Our party is a democratic party. We are not a party of father and son or mother and son.
Rajdeep Sardesai: But why can't you force Narendra bhai to come and campaign if he's a potential prime ministerial candidate should he not campaign in Uttar Pradesh?
Nitin Gadkari: You know these all questions, these are appropriate questions but to a wrong person.
Rajdeep Sardesai: But you are the party President.
Nitin Gadkari: You can ask these questions to Narendra bhai and he will explain. it's not proper for me to discuss this issue in the media.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Are you disappointed?
Nitin Gadkari: Not at all.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Do you think it is affecting your party's unity that a top leader does not campaign?
Nitin Gadkari: First of all, the party has already made request to him to give some time for Uttar Pradesh and I still expect that he will give the dates and he will come for the campaign for the party in Uttar Pradesh.