Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, whose recent comments were construed by the Congress as an attack on Prime Narendra Modi, on Friday reacted to the speculation that he would be projected as the next prime minister of the country if his party needed support of other political parties to form a government after the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, saying he was not in the race to become the PM.
"Mungeri Lal Ke Haseen Sapne" (day dreaming), the minister said in his first response when he was asked if he would be projected as the prime minister in case of a fractured mandate.
Mr Gadkari called himself a man of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is his party BJP's ideological mentor.
"I have nothing to do with it. I am not in the race. Modi-ji is the PM and will become Prime Minister again. I am from RSS (Mai RSS wala hun). Our mission is to work for the nation," he was quoted by the news agency PTI as saying.
Last month, Nitin Gadkari's comment that he would thrash anybody who talked about caste, was seen by the Congress as an attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Madhya Pradesh Congress tweeted NDTV Khabar's report on the minister's comment and said Mr Gadkari had once again "directly attacked" Narendra Modi and the BJP. "Gadkari Ji has spoken out against the politics of religion - a policy followed by the BJP," said the tweet, adding, "When will you thrash those who ask for votes in the name of Hanuman Ji's religion?"
Mr Gadkari and Congress president Rahul Gandhi's camaraderie on the sidelines of the Republic Day Parade had also grabbed attention. Days after sitting beside each other, Mr Gandhi said Mr Gadkari was the only one who had some guts.
"Gadkari Ji, compliments! You are the only one in the BJP with some guts. Please also comment on: 1. The Rafale scam and Anil Ambani 2. Farmers' distress 3. Destruction of institutions," tweeted Rahul Gandhi, reacting to the minister's latest.
Mr Gadkari had admonished Mr Gandhi for the comment.
Today, he said that the country was progressing under PM Modi's leadership.
"Country is progressing in terms of development and growth under Modiji's leadership. We are standing behind him. Where does the question arise of my becoming the PM," he said in reply to a related query.
"Neither I dream it, nor there is any liaisoning, nor any PR," Mr Gadkari rubbished rumours of any efforts towards becoming the PM.
In reply to a query as to why he was favourite among the opposition leaders, Mr Gadkari said he was a workaholic and believes in hardwork.
"Whoever comes to me, my thinking remains positive. I tell my officials that he has come to me that means he has some problems so keep positive approach and solve it. Receive (them) nicely and if not possible tell the problems and why it cannot be done. I do not behave as per political calculation. This is my natural behaviour and that is why opponents also becomes my friends," he said.
Mr Gadkari's comment last year that there were no jobs in the economy had provided an opportunity to the opposition to slam the government. He had later said that his minister alone provided 1 crore jobs.
With inputs from PTI