NEW DELHI: UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and her Congress colleague Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday joined BJP members in applauding Nitin Gadkari for his performance as Union road transport and highways minister.
Soon after Gadkari completed his reply during question hour amid thumping of desks by BJP members, party MP from Madhya Pradesh Ganesh Singh stood up and suggested to the Speaker that the House should appreciate the “wonderful” work being carried out by the minister.
At this, Sonia, who all through was patiently listening to Gadkari and was often seen nodding in response to his replies, smiled and started thumping the desk as a sign of appreciation. Soon, all Congress members, including Kharge, followed suit.
Although Sonia and Kharge displayed their appreciation in response to an appeal by Ganesh Singh, their gesture may not be seen solely through the non-partisan prism because of Congress’s attempt to prop up Gadkari as a counterweight to PM Narendra Modi.
The adulation of Congress leaders followed Rahul Gandhi certifying Gadkari as a man of courage as well as Congress pouncing upon the minister’s statements to embarrass the Modi government and the BJP leadership.
Congress’s interest in Gadkari has failed to amuse the minister who was seen chatting animatedly with Rahul during the R-Day parade. He responded to the Congress chief’s endorsement by saying that he needed no certificate from Rahul. He has also accused the media of distorting his statements.
But that has neither deterred Congress from using his shoulders to take potshots at the Modi government, nor dampened the speculation about his strained equations with the BJP leadership. In fact, the buzz that he might replace Modi should BJP’s tally drop below 200 seats has only escalated.
Earlier, during his replies, Gadkari said his ministry had taken up expansion work and construction of highways across the country with special focus on the North-east. “I feel privileged that all MPs, cutting across political affiliations, say that good and maximum work has been carried out in their respective constituencies. These are good compliments. I really thank you,” Gadkari said.
There were reports in August last year that Sonia had written to Gadkari thanking him for his “positive response” to road issues she had raised relating to her constituency Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh.
The minister also said 65,000km of highways would be constructed across the country at a cost of over Rs 5.35 lakh crore by 2022.
Source: Times of India