Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Nitin Gadkari has said that he will quit politics if anybody could prove his alleged business links with close aide and party MP Ajay Sancheti, currently in the midst of an irrigation scam in Maharashtra.
Speaking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Gadkari said that Sancheti did not get a single contract during his tenure as the Public Works Department (PWD) minister of Maharashtra.
Below is the edited transcript of the interview.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Were you batting for Ajay Sancheti because your critics are saying, 'Nitin Gadkari has business links with Ajay Sancheti who is a BJP Rajya Sabha MP'. You gave him the ticket and he is the person who is controlling Rs 17,000 crore worth of irrigation projects today in Maharashtra...
Nitin Gadkari: Ajay Sancheti is doing his business since the last 30 years. He is a three generation businessmen and contractor. I have... directly, indirectly... not any type of business relations with him. Now I am going to challenge everybody... to Congress party and the media. If you have got a single evidence that can prove that I am a direct, indirect business partner of Ajay Sancheti or Sharad Pawar, please identify, I will donate all that property to whosoever it may be who can identify.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Will you give up politics if it is proved that you have business links with Ajay Sancheti?
Nitin Gadkari: I will leave politics.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Because he is from Nagpur, he has been given a Rajya Sabha ticket... because Nitin Gadkari batted for him. He is the one who got irrigation projects from Ajit Pawar. For example, the Penganga project - he gets Rs 12000 crore worth of contracts one day before the code of conduct is to come in 2009. He has strong contacts with Ajit Pawar. He has good contacts with you. That is the connection which is being built.
Nitin Gadkari: First of all, all these are contracts before I became the President of the BJP.
Rajdeep Sardesai: You didn't give it before you became Public Works Department (PWD) minister in Maharashtra?
Nitin Gadkari: Not a single contract.
Rajdeep Sardesai: No road contacts, nothing to do with Mumbai-Pune highway, no contracts...?
Nitin Gadkari: No, Ajay Sancheti in my regime never constructed a single road.