Uddhav Thackery makes Lok Sabha ‘offer’ to Nitin Gadkari; BJP hits back

Mumbai, March 8 (IANS) Needling the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Shiv Sena (UBT) President and ex-Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray made the fresh offer of a Lok Sabha seat to Union minister Nitin Gadkari, leading to a war-of-words between the two rival parties.

At a couple of public meetings, Thackeray pointed out that a senior leader like Gadkari, a two-time MP from Nagpur, did not figure in BJP’s first list of candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

“Don’t bend before Delhi… You just leave the BJP and come to the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA). Show them your worth. We shall all ensure that you get elected to the Parliament,” Thackeray said.

On several occasions, Thackeray has pointed out how the BJP ignored Gadkari in the first list, but included an ex-Congressman and a tainted leader like Kripashankar Singh for the Jaunpur seat in Uttar Pradesh.

“I have worked closely with Gadkari. It was he who completed Balasaheb Thackeray’s dream project, the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, in a record time more than 20 years ago. He is a senior and loyal BJP leader, yet his name did not figure in the first list. I have known him much before Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah,” said Thackeray.

Earlier on several occasions, state Congress President Nana Patole and Nationalist Congress Party (SP) leader Supriya Sule had called upon Gadkari to consider options, when he was reportedly slighted by the BJP, while another Shiv Sena (UBT) leader, Kishore Tiwari, had described him as a ‘PM material’.

Retaliating, BJP’s Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis belittled Thackeray by saying that his party (SS-UBT) is in a mess, and “this offer to Gadkari is akin to a man in the lane asking someone to join him and become the American President!”.

“Gadkari Sir is a very tall national leader… In the first list, his name was not there as the MahaYuti was engaged in the seat-sharing discussions. But his name will figure in the next list,” said Fadnavis.

MahaYuti’s BJP Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar also hit back at Thackeray with a counter-offer after the latter asked Gadkari to quit the BJP and join the Opposition ranks for better political prospects.

“I am giving you a challenge: Come back to the BJP, we will get you elected and give you a dignified position. Drop your arrogance and join us,” Mungantiwar told Thackeray, pointing out how in the past, Gadkari had said he would commit suicide rather than quit the BJP.

Mungantiwar also advised Thackeray to refrain from creating confusion by making such statements, especially since Gadkari is a nationally respected ‘asset’ whom all the parties admire.

Gadkari (66) has been the longest-serving Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways since 2014, and is credited with revolutionising the surface transport sector in the country with a network criss-crossing the nation, including the remote areas, starting with his previous tenure as a PWD Minister in Maharashtra (1995-1999).

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: [email protected])



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