- Nitin Gadkari said party presidents must take onus for MLAs' performance
- He also spoke about tolerance as a crucial aspect of India's culture
- He was addressing top officers of the country's security establishment
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has added another to a series of recent comments that have been interpreted as a message for the BJP's leadership following the party's election defeats. On Monday, during a Q and A session at an event in Delhi, he said if lawmakers were not performing, it is the party president who should take the responsibility.
Mr Gadkari, the Union Transport Minister, was addressing top officers of the Intelligence Bureau and the country's security establishment when he made the stunning remarks.
"If one looks closely, the success of the Home Ministry today is because of their trained and skilled IAS and IPS officers. Proper training is the most important part. I believe that overall, majority of the IPS, IAS officers are clean and does a good job but if I am the party president, and my MLAs are not doing well, my MPs don't perform then I am responsible. What have I done to groom them," the minister said. It was seen by many to suggest that the buck stops with BJP chief Amit Shah for the party's defeats in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
At the same event, Mr Gadkari, a former BJP chief, also spoke about tolerance as a crucial aspect of India's culture - also gaining significance in the backdrop of a controversy over actor Naseeruddin Shah's criticism of mob killings - and referenced India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, a Congress icon.
"He (Nehru) would say every person should think that he is not a problem for the country, and I would also think so. Half the problems would be solved if each individual decided not to create them," he said.
Last week, his comment that the "leadership should own up to defeat" caused a stir just after the BJP lost the three heartland states to the Congress. Speaking at a bank employees' function in Pune, he said success has many fathers but failure is an orphan. "When there is success, nobody is willing to own up to failure... The leadership should have the vrutti (attitude) to own up to defeat and failures".
On Sunday, Mr Gadkari put out a clarification saying that his remarks had been twisted by the media.
He said his remarks had no political overtones and were taken out of context. "My entire speech in Marathi is available. Whatever I said was in the context of banking and I neither referred it to any election nor any political leader. But unfortunately, a section of media twisted my statement by linking it to the current electoral politics by adding up their own comment," he said.
Mr Gadkari also asserted on Twitter that "conspiracies to create a wedge between me and the BJP leadership will never succeed."