- Narendra Modi is our leader and will be prime minister: Nitin Gadkari
- He said BJP-led National Democratic will win a "reasonably good majority"
- He also admitted that jobs and farm crises remained a problem
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said today that he was "not a dark horse" for prime minister and had "no agenda, desire or dream" of becoming prime minister. On speculation about the possibility of the BJP, in the event of a reduced majority and more dependence on allies, having to pick a different face, Mr Gadkari told NDTV: "Narendra Modi is our leader and will be prime minister."
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will win a "reasonably good majority" and form a government under PM Modi's leadership, Mr Gadkari said in an exclusive interview to NDTV.
"We will form an NDA government, not a BJP government. Even if we win a majority on our own, we will consider it an NDA government and take our allies along."
Asked to explain how the BJP would gain more numbers, the Union Minister said his party would win more seats from Odisha, Bengal and Kerala. "Even Uttar Pradesh won't be like you think," he remarked.
Many analyses and opinion polls predict a dent in the BJP's UP tally since 2014 - when it scooped 71 of the state's 80 seats - because of the alliance of the rivals, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The BJP, however, is banking on the opposition's votes being divided with the Congress making it a triangular fight.
"Two plus two is not everything in politics. Two plus two is not four. It is three," Mr Gadkari quipped.
On PM Modi's aggressive targeting of Congress president Rahul Gandhi's father Rajiv Gandhi, the former prime minister assassinated in 1991 by a suicide bomber, Mr Gadkari's response was: "PM chor hai was said by Congress 56 times. There will be action and reaction in election season."
He was referring to the "Chowkidar chor hai" phrase that Congress president Rahul Gandhi has made his campaign cry summing up his allegations of corruption in the Rafale deal signed by PM Modi with France in 2016.
"Rahul Gandhi should be more serious, more mature and wise and should not have to apologise," said the BJP leader, apparently referring to the Congress president having to apologise for attributing false statements to the Supreme Court.
On the flagging economy and warnings of a structural slowdown, Mr Gadkari demurred: "These are not a five year problem but a 70-year problem. Five years is too little. Employment is a problem but not from today. This election will be fought on the basis of our achievements in five years."
Admitting that jobs and farm crises remained a problem, he said: "These problems are because of wrong economic policies, bad and corrupt governance, and visionless leadership of the Congress party. To improve this situation, five years is less. We have changed policies...All this will take time."
Mr Gadkari also fielded questions on the internal churn in the party as founding members LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi were benched for the election. "It was a decision of the party not to field anyone above 75. Would you have a TV anchor at 70," he shot back.